Alzheimer's Disease Support Groups
What goes on, who attends, and why you might want to join one.
The basics of Alzheimer's support groups
Nearly every professional involved with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia recommends support groups for caregivers and loved ones of people with the disease, simply because it can be so challenging -- emotionally, mentally, and physically. As the disease progresses and alters a person you know, you're bound to experience a range of reactions and face ever-changing problems.
Being with other people in similar situations can be a source of practical help as you learn about new ideas and resources. But most of all, it's helpful to talk to or listen to others wrestling with similar problems and the complicated feelings they bring.
What are support groups?
Support groups come in different shapes and sizes:
- They may meet weekly, biweekly, monthly, or bimonthly.
- Some have fixed start and end dates, just like a series of classes.
- Others meet on a regular basis for anyone who drops in.
- Most are free.
- The individual meetings typically last about two hours each, and many are scheduled during evenings or weekends, to fit around working hours.
- Groups vary in size, usually being open to between six and 20 people per session. Ideally, they're small enough for everyone to contribute and feel comfortable with one another.
It depends on the group. Some are specifically organized to help a particular subgroup of caregivers -- adult children, for example, or male caregivers. Some are set up for those whose family member is in a certain stage of the disease. Groups for early-stage Alzheimer's groups are increasingly available. Some gatherings have a faith-based or spiritual component.