If you are like most family caregivers, stress is simply going to be a reality in your care journey with your aging loved ones. Studies have shown that adult children who take on the responsibility of caring for their senior parents are far more likely to not only experience higher levels of stress than adults their age who are not caregivers, but are also more likely to experience emotional and mental health consequences associated with high levels of stress, including increased risk for depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and hopelessness.
High stress also contributes to physical consequences such as digestive problems and increased vulnerability to illness and infection. Finding ways to manage the stress in your life is important to protect your physical, emotional, and mental health, and to ensure that you are the best caregiver for your aging loved ones that you can be.
One of the most effective ways for you to ease your stress and enhance yourself to improve the care you give your seniors is to participate in a support group. Support groups give you a place where you can talk to others who understand what you are going through and can offer you emotional encouragement and advice. This not only improves what you can do for your parents, but also makes you a better person for your spouse, your children, and the others in your life.
3 Tips for Making the Most of Caregiver Support Groups
Use these tips to help you make the most of participating in a caregiver support group:
1. Choose the right one
When you decide that you want to join a caregiver support group, make sure that you select one that will put you with others who are dealing with the same thing. Look for groups that specify caregivers for seniors of specific ages or who are dealing with certain medical conditions and issues. This will help you find others who can truly commiserate with you and help you to make the right decisions.
2. Be honest
In order to make the most of your participation in a care support group, you need to commit yourself to it. This means being honest with what you are going through and what you are struggling with in your journey. Rest assured the leader has heard it all and the others in the group have likely experienced the same things that you are going through, including those negative emotions you may be embarrassed to mention. Open yourself up to them so that they can help you.
3. Do not just complain
While your group is a great place for you to vent and get out the emotions and concerns that you are not comfortable discussing with your parents or others in your care network, do not just take this as your opportunity to complain. Also spend some time talking about the good things in your journey, your gratitude for being able to care for your parents, and the ways that you have fun with your seniors. This is a great way to show support and offer comfort to those who feel like there is nothing good about being a caregiver or who are at the very beginning of the journey and are afraid of what may lie ahead.
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