Gale began attending the AgingNext Caregiver Support Group meetings over 17 years ago when her father was diagnosed with Leukemia. Shortly after his passing, her mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Gale became her caregiver. To better prepare for what lay ahead, Gale became a Certified Gerontologist.
Gale and her fellow support group attendee, Kathleen McCall, saw the opportunity for a new Caregiver Support Group, one that included art as a way to give attendees an additional form of expressing their grief, their frustration, and their love for their care partner. The group is co-sponsored by the Pomona Valley Art Association, The Art Place at Montclair Place, and AgingNext, and incorporates relaxing art therapy with traditional support group methods.
In the U.S., over 40 million family caregivers provide care for loved ones. It is easy for caregivers to neglect their own emotional and spiritual health. Caregiver burnout can happen when help isn’t available. Studies show that local support groups can be exceptionally helpful to prevent burnout. Gale volunteers so much of her time to ensure the group’s success, she looks for opportunities for improvement, incorporates new ideas, and consults with our aging experts to find the appropriate resources to help group members and their loved ones.
How do AgingNext Support Groups help?
Bill was a single man caring for his mother who was exhibiting symptoms of the advanced stages of dementia. He was extremely confused and frustrated about how to deal with her behavior. He felt isolated and alone because this was a new experience for him. He was concerned that he would have to quit his job because caregiving consumed so much of his time and he didn’t know how he would support himself financially. Before attending the support group, he was unaware that medical and neuropsychiatric evaluations were available to diagnose her condition. Through the AgingNext support group community, he learned about how others managed the behaviors of those they cared for and was able to form some strategies of his own. He was referred to the AgingNext Memory Care Center, and his mother enjoyed the program so much that she was disappointed on the weekends when she couldn’t attend. With the support, resources, and care provided by the members of the support group and by AgingNext, Bill received much needed time for himself and he was able to continue working at his job.
Group members can always rely on the group to listen, provide them with comfort and friendship, to offer support in making tough decisions, and to care for them as only other caregivers can. Care recipients benefit too, as their providers can focus their energies on the task at hand.
Are you a family caregiver or do you know someone who is? Tell them about our Caregiver Support Groups, we have one that will fit into everyone’s schedule and are free to attend. (LINK to support group page/dates)