Dementia is a syndrome that affects the elderly more than any other group. It can cause a greater degree of memory loss than is common with normal aging, even causing elderly people to become moody or hostile. Dementia causes a host of problems for both the sufferer and the friends and family, and because of this, dementia support groups are available to provide a way for everyone affected by this condition to communicate openly and find support in knowing that they are not alone.
Dementia’s Effect On the Family
Dementia can cause anger, resentment and confusion within a family. The person with dementia may feel ostracized or mistrusted, confused and angry about what is going on with their own body and mind. Relatives can struggle with feelings of loss, seeing their loved one’s personality change or witnessing their parent or grandparent struggle with daily tasks. The sufferer may want to drive when he no longer has the eyesight, reflexes or physical abilities to do so. He may blame the caregiver unreasonably for anything from having to take medications to losing his hearing aids. An air of discomfort and distrust can develop between patient and caregiver, and tension can run high among family members and friends who are each grieving and trying to cope with this regression process in their own way.
Types of Dementia Support Groups
Dementia support groups are available for people who want help dealing with people who have dementia. Some of the groups are online groups, which can be accessed 24 hours a day, every day. Telephone counselors may work with such groups to help with specific and serious problems. Other dementia support groups are held in meeting rooms in hospitals, churches, restaurants or civic centers. Some of the groups are for more specific conditions contributing to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, and some are generally for all dementias.
Who Joins Dementia Support Groups?
Caregivers go to support groups more than anyone else. The caregivers are often family members, but they can also be people outside the family who come in to take care of the elderly person. People in the medical community sometimes attend meetings, but it’s most common for those who are a part of the patient’s family or social circle who have not been medically trained and who are personally invested in the dementia sufferer’s life.
What Goes On In Dementia Support Groups?
Sometimes, medical professionals who visit discuss the physical aspects of dementias and are available to answer questions. Social workers may be there to help caregivers understand the social aspects of the syndrome. Even when there are no special guests, there is plenty of help. The leader will guide the group in discussing the problems they have with their elderly parents or relatives. The group will offer support and suggestions about how to deal with problems.
Why Participate in Dementia Support Groups?
Attending is helpful, but participating can help even more. When you get involved with the group, you discover new ways of looking at dilemmas that you face every day as the caregiver of an elderly person with dementia. You can make friends and develop a support system for yourself. Taking care of you, in fact, is one of the most important reasons to attend a dementia support group. If you cannot take care of yourself, you will be in no shape to take care of others.