Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. –James 4:14
Happy Hump Day all! 🙂 The weekend is already on the horizon. But first, we trod through the rest of the week with a smile on our face and love in our heart. (Or we’ll try, at least)
On today’s “Who, What, Where, Why, When-sday”, a day I set apart weekly to point you to ways to help, I want to suggest something to slightly more experienced caregiver types: support groups. There is a lot to say and a lot of things have changed, so let’s dive in and discuss. 🙂
Who- According to patientslounge.com, overall, an effective support group leader/facilitator has the following traits:
- Well trained
- Good organization skills
- Good communication skills
- Knowledge and experience with the issue of the support group
- Lover of people
- Able to create a safe environment through rules and guidelines
- Willing and able to keep the group within the bounds of those rules and guidelines
- Foster and model trust, encouragement, and empathy and compassion
- Keep the good of the whole group first
- Able to handle unplanned, sensitive situations__ or conflict.
I would add/expand on this list by mentioning the need to be an active listener who can listen and empathize at the same time. I might also reiterate the importance of subject matter knowledge. You don’t have to have first-hand experience, but you need to be ready for questions since there is soooooo much to know about our little topic. These being said, I know dozens of great facilitators…much better ones than I am…and dozens more who could be and aren’t. In dementia, we need trained support group leaders. The Alzheimer’s Association has provided mountains of online training and will train you in person as well. If you have the traits above, you are the who. 🙂
What- The WHAT in support groups has evolved. When most think of support groups, they thing of AA groups sitting in a circle with a rigid format and lots of sharing. Dementia caregiver support can take that form as well since it is familiar to many and tends to be comfortable to the most people possible. However, COVID-19 has opened up/expanded all sorts of other support group options. First, you can facilitate a “normal” group via Zoom with some help from your Alzheimer’s Association field agents. You can serve and share on ALZConnected, an organization-sponsored bulletin board. There are countless social media forums found in Facebook groups, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and dozens other sites. Some are more edifying than others, but all get the word out.
Where-Coming soon…in-person groups (again). Now is the time to get with the Alzheimer’s Association to get trained and receive a mountain of materials to hand out. Where, as mentioned before, can also be on a Zoom or in a support group forum on social media.
Why- Why will become obvious the first time you attend a meeting. You will hear someone ask “Have you ever had your loved one ________________??? timidly, expecting that you are alone, and 3-5 people say “Oh yeah…been there, done that.”. This was so very important to me to know that what I was experiencing was hard, but I wasn’t alone experiencing it. It is so freeing to divide sorrows and multiply joy in that way. I had never attended a support group for anything before experiencing my mom’s condition, but I guarantee you I will going forward as life’s challenges happen. It is a natural lemonade maker for life’s artichokes….
When- Now is a great time to learn and grow and attend other’s groups to get prepared for your own. I attended a wonderful one in Willard, Missouri before my schedules got mixed and attending became impossible. I learned a lot about the disease and about facilitating classes in this group that I use even now in my own group. My group meets virtually this month on the 3rd Tuesday of the month (Next Tuesday) at 6pm CST. If you want to go, I will send you the Zoom link. 🙂 NEXT month I hope to resume having it in person…
There are a lot of time/geography/social group gaps that need to be filled. Are you a possible leader? Can you at least attend to help the rest of the group? Every bit helps 🙂 Thank you for considering this option. 🙂
Here are some helpful links:
LINK– use the search box to find Facebook groups here and join them.
Update: Mom is back to being wheezy again as of yesterday. Hospice checks on her today I believe and I get to see her tomorrow. Wheezing due to aspirating food and drinks is a drag…and can be lethal either in choking or pneumonia. Praying that smooths out soon.
Runnin’ Til I’m Purple Update– Finally got to run today…first time in nearly a week because of my root canal issue. I got in 9.25 miles on a dreadmill. I look forward to running outside this weekend, even if in the rain. There is nothing like being outside… We are around $1900 combined, have sold more T-shirts and have an unknown number of car washes at Blue Iguana. We need a nice hot, dry weekend to help with that… I am still hopeful we can get to the $5280 goal. Do you know anyone who will donate/sponsor? Send them my way 🙂
Thank you all! I hope your week goes well and that you have a live-giving weekend as we keep up the fight to one day #EndALZ ! 🙂