Caring for a loved one is easier if you get the support you need to keep up your emotional strength. There are many resources that can help you get the backing you need.
Find a Caregiver Organization
Many national groups have helpful information about what your loved one is going through. By having a better understanding of the situation, you'll feel better prepared to deal with whatever comes your way, says Marion Somers, PhD, author of Elder Care Made Easier.
"It may also help to alleviate any blame or guilt you feel," she says.
Some organizations that can help are:
- National Alliance for Caregiving
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Caregiver Action Network
- Administration on Aging
- Alzheimer's Association
The web sites of these groups are good resources for:
- Information about caregiving
- Education programs
- Lists of support groups
- Videos and pamphlets
Join a Support Group
"The magic of these groups is that everyone there is dealing with the same or similar problems," Somers says. "You can expect to receive support, empathy, and often some very practical solutions and advice."
Find one through:
- Your local hospital
- A community center
- A religious institution
- Your loved one's doctor
- A national caregiver organization
- Local chapters of specific disease groups (like the American Heart Association or Alzheimer's Association)
Get Professional Help
A therapist or counselor can give you emotional and practical support. You'll work through the challenges of caregiving and find strength to keep going. A counselor can help you manage stress, make hard decisions, and find a balance between caregiving, family, and work.
A counselor can also evaluate your needs as a caregiver, create a support plan, and make referrals to other caregiver resources.
You can try individual, family, or group therapy.
To find a professional counselor, ask for recommendations from:
- Your doctor
- Clergy at your religious organization
- Friends and family
- Your employer's human resources department
Also call your health insurance company for a list of providers covered under your policy. And check the web site of the National Association of Social Workers and the American Mental Health Counselors Association.