Finding An Online Caregiver Support Group

  • May 17, 2016

When your loved one has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, it can be hard to know where to turn for support. If you’re the primary caregiver – perhaps while also taking care of younger children of your own – you may feel as if joining a support group is a luxury you don’t have time for.

But it’s important to find ways to connect with others who are experiencing similar struggles.
A support group may help you avoid caregiver burnout. It might also provide time-saving tips to help manage your busy life, and receive the emotional support you need to keep going when you feel exhausted. You really can’t afford not to have a support group.

If you can’t find the time to attend an in-person support group, or can’t find one near you, an online support group can be a solution.

Benefits of an Online Caregiver Support Group
An online caregiver support group:
  • Allows you reach out to people in similar situations, without regard to geography
  • Fits into your busy schedule with access through your smartphone, tablet or computer
  • Is there whenever you need it, not just during regularly scheduled meetings
But how do you go about finding one?

Start by Looking Online for Others Like Yourself

Organizations like the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the American Heart Association and the Family Caregiver Alliance offer both in-person and online support groups.

Whatever disease you or your loved one is coping with – even aging – a Google search for “support groups” will reveal a number of options. Most are free to join.

For some caregivers, the appeal of online support groups is you can meet individuals from all over the country, or even the world, facing the same battles you fight every day. And the anonymity of an online support group might help you be more open and honest about your feelings than you would be comfortable doing in person.

Ask Around for Recommendations

Your loved one’s doctors or a local assisted community may host online support groups. If not, they may be able to recommend one.

Try Facebook or LinkedIn

Do you find yourself turning to Facebook or LinkedIn late at night, when the house is quiet, as a way to relax? The support you’re looking for may be right in your virtual backyard. Do a search or ask others in your network if they can recommend a group.

Once You Find an Online Support Group...

Once you find a group with members that seem to face similar challenges you do, feel free to “lurk” a while. Read posts without chiming in. Allow yourself a few days to get to know the personalities, the frequent contributors, the moderators, and the resources available within the group. You’ll often find helpful information “pinned” in a post at the top of your screen that outlines the group’s purpose and rules, and an introduction to the moderators.

You’ll soon discover that every online community has its own culture and etiquette. Once you feel comfortable, introduce yourself. (There’s usually a thread for new members to do that, too.)  Then dive in asking questions, offering support, and making friends.

Online Caregiver Support: Your Friends Away from Home

While an online group won’t necessarily replace the support structure you have in your home town, it is a great way to get advice, find helpful resources, and solicit objective opinions.

Best of all, wherever you go, your online support group is just a click away. 

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