Dementia support groups are circles of caregivers working together to stay strong, searching for the resources to deal with devastating disease. Who's supporting you?Once a loved one settles into a Care Haven home, everyone breathes a sigh of relief. The family stops worrying that Mom will get lost, or that Dad will forget to take his meds.

So it’s surprising when new worries pop up. In this safe, calm environment, a caregiver’s brain has room for new concerns . . .

  • How can my loved one make the most of each day?
  • What expectations are reasonable?
  • What plans and decisions must be made?
  • How do caregivers cope with the stress of making these choices – the burdens of responsibility, anxiety, fear, anger, grief and guilt?

You’re a caregiver, so you’re used to being proactive. You seek a diagnosis and advice from experts. You learn about dementia, best care practices, medications, alternative treatments and current research studies. You update legal and financial plans – assemble a great medical team – find the care you dreamed of.

All of this eases the strain on a caregiver. But it doesn’t eliminate it.

How can you cope with the stress?

Generally, not alone.

Who will help you take care of YOU?

Consider joining a dementia support group for caregivers.

Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association  and the National Parkinson’s Foundation arrange regularly scheduled, confidential meetings so caregivers for people diagnosed with dementia can gather for mutual support. Many find these dementia support groups a valuable coping tool. It’s a relief to find an empathetic community facing similar struggles.

Some people avoid support groups. They worry that the meetings will be whiny or depressing. They’re afraid of being surrounded by needy people who want to compare “war stories.”

Many newcomers to dementia support groups are surprised to find a circle of people working to be strong, searching for resources to deal with a devastating disease. These folks are trying to stay healthy and informed in order to take better care of their loved ones. They’re looking for ways to enjoy the moments they still share.

Keep looking for the right dementia support group.

Don’t settle for anything less than a place where people seem to understand what you’re going through – listen without judging – encourage you to find your own way. You should find empathy without the maddening platitudes. A support group can be a safe place to cry if you need to. It should help you find a reason to laugh again, too.

Many dementia support groups meet throughout the Kansas City area, monthly or biweekly. Trained professionals or former family caregivers lead them. (Courtney facilitates a monthly group in Lenexa.) Follow the links below to find the one most convenient for you. If you don’t like the first one you visit, try another. Each group has its own personality. Look for one that suits yours!

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Don’t forget – We’re here for you, too. Stay connected with us and other dementia caregivers. SUBSCRIBE to our blog and follow us on FacebookPinterestGoogle+ & LinkedIn.

Alzheimer’s Support Groups: The Alzheimer’s Association’s website features a national directory of support groups. Find one that’s convenient for you.

Parkinson’s Support Groups: The National Parkinson Foundation Heartland includes a List of Kansas and Missouri support groups (and exercise classes) on its website.