Online Support Groups Can Provide You the Help and Support You Need

Get the Help You Need With Online Caregiver Support Groups

When you’re a family caregiver, finding a minute to do almost anything but provide care sometimes seems impossible. But caregivers need support, and they often don’t want to or are unable to vent to other family members or friends about caregiving’s nitty-gritty details. Luckily, online caregiver support groups provide caregivers with support, connections and convenience.

Lots of family caregivers aren’t so sure an online caregiver support groups will help them. They wonder if the lack of in-person interaction is impersonal and aren’t quite sure how to navigate the etiquette of an online community where they can’t hear others voices or see their faces.

Why make the effort to connect with others? “Caregiving, on top of the stress and logistical challenges of caring for an aging loved one, is very lonely,” says Andy Cohen, founder of Caring.com, an online destination for family caregivers. “Support groups are a way to make them not feel so alone.”

Face-to-face caregiver support groups offer important personal interaction, but they aren’t for everyone. Caregivers who won’t take the time to go to an in-person support group or who don’t want to find back-up care can really benefit from connecting with others online. And, for some, it’s easier to talk about your feelings out of a group setting.

Cohen says many caregivers are reluctant to share their complex feelings with people who aren’t experiencing the same things. “It isn’t something they want to post to Facebook,” he says, and they are worried they will always be the downer in conversations.

“Online support groups are wonderful in that they offer flexibility,” says Todd McCallum, associate professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University. Online caregiver support groups give people an outlet wherever they can fit it into their days. And although some people do middle-of-the-night postings, Cohen says many more caregivers log in during working hours or a lunch break.

If you’re interested in an online caregiver support group, just start reading the posts of some groups, says McCallum. You might be asked to register to participate (usually for security reasons), but that doesn’t mean you have to post anything, he says.

Ideally, users attend an online caregiver support group with some understood manners. It’s a good idea to let people know you are considering joining the group when you start reading. “Say, ‘I am just checking this out right now and I might not say very much,'” says McCallum. And if you find just following along is helpful to you, you can remain a less vocal group member. To be polite, McCallum says every now and then post that even if you aren’t saying much, the others’ stories are helping you.

Reluctant to try it out? “Most people will see the benefit of using online support groups when they start to use them,” says McCallum. “It’s just getting them to use it.”

In the end, don’t let your uncertainty keep you away from something that could make your caregiving journey easier. “Remember, taking care of yourself is how you become a better caregiver,” says Cohen. “Anything that caregivers can do to make themselves healthier puts them in a better position to care for someone else.”

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4 thoughts on “Online Support Groups Can Provide You the Help and Support You Need

  1. erin.byram
    January 26, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    There are several online support groups on Facebook. Many of them are private, so you don’t have to worry about family or friends seeing your posts.

  2. john q
    March 1, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    But this closed group is where I can go to vent, ask questions, listen to others and now I know I’m not alone…I know I have to take care of myself too. I’m going to my doctor appointment on Monday. It’s time for me too. Because if I’m not in good health, I can’t take care of my Mom,,,

  3. Irene
    May 13, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    I belong to a closed group of caregivers. My Cousin requested me to join. It’s on Facebook. No one in my family can see my comments. This group has helped me tremendously. My Mom is 92 years old and is now on Medicare Hospice in our home. So I’m taking care of her 24/7 that I’m taking care of her…It’s been hard…But this closed group is where I can go to vent, ask questions, listen to others and now I know I’m not alone…I know I have to take care of myself too. I’m going to my doctor appointment on Monday. It’s time for me too. Because if I’m not in good health, I can’t take care of my Mom,,,

    1. JANET
      November 13, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      I MOVED ACROSS THE USA. TO TAKE CARE OF MY TWIN SISTER. SHE HAD SURGERY . 3 YEARS AGO . I AM IN POUR HEALTH MY SELF. SHE HAS 4 GROWING SONS.NO HELP FROM THEM. WE ARE LIVIVG TOGETHER. . I CANT DO THIS ANY MORE.
      I AM BROKING . AND I THINK IT IS TIME FOR ME. SHE HAS CAVER GIVES COMING IN 3 HR A DAY. YES THEY HELP HER OUT. BUT NOT ME.
      I HAVE DECIDED THAT I AM MOVING OUT . AND GETTING A PLACE MY OF MY OWN.
      BUT MY SISTER IS GOING TO BE DEVASTADED .
      I WANT TO BE HER SISTER. AND NOT HER CARE GIVER?

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