An increasing number of adult children are stepping into the role of family caregiver for one or both of their parents. The decision to take on the caregiver role usually occurs when an adult child begins having serious concerns about a parent's health, safety or emotional well-being.
Determining what type of help the senior may need is the easy part. What is often more difficult is the wide range of emotions and issues that inevitably surface for both parent and child. Loss of independence, lack of control and a diminished quality of life can lead to frustration or anger on the part of the senior. Becoming involved in the care and decision-making process for one's parents can be uncomfortable for the adult child, as they watch their previously strong parent face a variety of challenges. Unfamiliar territory and unspoken fears can make open and honest dialogue difficult, adding additional stress to what is often an already stressful situation.
Support groups can be of significant help. They cover a wide range of topics, from how to recognize and deal with early signs of dementia, to physical and emo-tional health issues.
Participation in these groups provides opportunities for both caregiver and senior to discuss their concerns, get answers to specific questions, and receive information and suggestions that can be put to immediate use. Support groups facilitated by nonprofit organizations usually have volunteers and staff who can provide additional free resources.
Here is a sampling of some of the groups that currently meet in the tri-city area: Alzheimer's Support Group meets in both Prescott and Prescott Valley. This group is for people caring for someone with any form of cognitive impairment, whether diagnosed or not. Call 771-9257 for more information. Meetings occur in Prescott Valley for those affected by Parkinson's disease. Contact Kay at 778-2242 or email@example.com. A Heart Disease Support Group meets at Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott. Call 771-5794. Women of Wisdom, a Men's Support Group, an Artful Aging Support Group, and a Low Vision Support Group are facilitated by West Yavapai Guidance Clinic. Participants do not have to be a client of the clinic. Call 445-5211. Good Samaritan Society facilitates a Hospice Grief Support Group in Prescott and Prescott Valley, as well as a Caregiver Support Group. Call 778-5655.
Perhaps the most important benefit of attending a support group is the realization that you are not in it alone. No matter what your particular family's situation might be, you will likely find others who are currently facing or have recently faced the same types of issues with which you are now dealing. Having been there and done that, they can share with you the benefit of their
experience. At the very least, you'll have an opportunity to share your feelings, should you wish to do so.
Remember - reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. It can be a source of strength that helps ease the path for you and your loved ones.
Debbie Stewart is CEO of the Senior Connection and publishes the "Caregiver Connection" newsletter, a resource for seniors, caregivers and service providers. It includes information about support groups, meetings, and services offered by local agencies, as well as articles on relevant topics. Free subscriptions are available via email. Contact Debbie@CaregiverConnection.us or call 778-3747. To view the current edition, visit www.CaregiverConnection.us.