Studies show that unpaid caregivers — of which there are an estimated 53 million in the U.S. alone, according to AARP — are at higher risk for physical injury, financial strain and emotional duress caused by high stress levels. One of the keys to self-care and alleviating stress for caregivers is finding support from other caregivers.
By joining the right caregiver support group, you not only get the opportunity to ask questions for the best ways to handle daily difficulties, but you’ll also know that there are thousands of people in the same situation ready to give you a listening ear.
Increasingly — and especially during the pandemic — many caregivers are finding support online. The benefit of these groups is that they’re available whenever you have the time to engage. But some caregivers are looking for more personal engagement and choose in-person support groups (which are likely meeting via video conference during the pandemic). Below, we’ll take a look at both options.
While there are dozens of national websites and forums for family and friends of senior loved ones to get encouragement, Facebook has seemed to take over in the past few years for popularity and accessibility. Since most everyone is on Facebook, it’s easy to join a group and begin interacting with the community right away. These are the highest-ranked Facebook groups currently being used to support and encourage caregivers:
Support groups for caregivers on Facebook
Does your loved one struggle with symptoms of memory loss or cognitive function? Whether your loved one is touched by dementia, Alzheimer’s or another memory loss illness, this group of over 23K active users is ready and able to assist with questions and concerns. They also regularly offer event details, educational opportunities and awareness discussions to help the community stay up-to-date on new developments in the fight against memory loss. It is a community open to both those struggling with dementia and memory impairment, and those who know them.
This group also supports caregivers of those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s. They pride themselves on being a safe space for anyone, and membership in the group guarantees a judgment-free place for learning and comfort. With over 15,000 members, the discussions stay lively and the topics timely.
This support group was created by a woman who was caring for her mother-in-law with dementia. While her loved one has passed on since then, the group has gained traction as a loving and encouraging destination for over 41,000 caregivers to learn and listen. The group also has over 100 new posts a day from members, making it a place to get answers to your caregiving questions quickly.
While not as large as some of the other Facebook groups, the Caregivers Hub has one purpose: to help new caregivers learn. Because it has such a welcoming mission, participants will find that there are many veteran caregivers available to answer questions and help them learn the basics quickly. With nearly 7,000 members, it is sure to grow as many new family members find themselves in the role.
This active group of over 5,200 members is a network sponsored by GreatCall. They aim to inspire, motivate, educate and bring hope to the parent, spouse or loved one of someone receiving care. The group doesn’t focus on any one type of caregiving situation.
Family Caregivers describes itself as a “welcoming, supportive community intended for family members taking care of family.” They do not currently admit professional caregivers, nursing home workers, former caregivers or anyone selling products or services. All new members must share their story within 24 hours of joining so that they can get to know the rest of the group. With over 2,000 active members, it’s a smaller group that feels like family to many.
Over 9,700 loved ones of those with memory-related illnesses are in this Facebook group. It’s growing rapidly, in part due to the welcoming atmosphere for those with dementia-related questions. If you are struggling with the weight of care, this might be the group for you.
Sponsored by one of the leading resources for caregivers, the CaregiversAssist.com group unites those interested in providing the best care possible and is led by geriatric care manager Aileen Ruess. Along with her 25 years of caregiving experience, she aims to provide a support system for both old and new caregivers. The group has over 2,000 members and is part of a comprehensive resource for caregivers that includes videos, workshops and more.
This group of over 16,000 sons and daughters charged with caregiving for their parents is a frequently updated resource. Join it and learn from others while you ask questions, vent or just listen. After all, the organizers acknowledge, “helping our elderly loved ones negotiate the world is the hardest job we’ve ever undertaken.
The 7,000 members of this Facebook group are being encouraged in their daily trials by TheCaregiverSpace.org, a nonprofit for caregivers, by caregivers. Anyone providing care who is elderly, ill, or disabled will find resources to help. Both family and professionals are encouraged to participate.
This group is designed for care-partners for loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Started by Julie Fleming (a caregiver to her father with Alzheimer’s), it is an active group of more than 5,700 members who choose to break the silence surrounding these devastating diseases. As part of the Option B Group Directly, the group follows strict rules to keep bullying and other abusive behaviors to a minimum.
Designed to be a support group for any caregiver to express feelings or thoughts, it has recently expanded to include the option to post caregiving opportunities or look for help. With 3,900 members, it is an active community for those who need it.
13. Working Daughter
With nearly 4,000 members, this group is specially designed for women with careers who are also balancing the demands of caring for a relative. Whether you are helping an older family member or someone younger with special needs, the community here is unique in that it understands the roles of work and care. This group is a project of the WorkingDaughter.com website.
Other Facebook groups are popping up all the time. If you don’t see what you’re looking for on this list, try a quick search specific to certain types of caregivers, such cancer or other illnesses.
Other caregiver support resources
While it can be a relief to connect with others in the same boat online, there’s nothing quite like getting face-to-face support from someone in real life. In fact, many of today’s caregivers use both online groups and regional or local in-person support groups.
Use this list as a jumping off point to track down caregiver meetings, resources or support services in your area. (Note that many support groups are meeting via phone calls or video conferences during the pandemic.)
Maintained by the U.S. Administration on Aging, this site acts as a database for finding help in a variety of areas, from nutrition guides to elder abuse prevention to legal assistance. Search by zip code or city and state to find the resources nearest you. You can also use their toll-free number at 1-800-677-1116 to get help.
The National Center on Caregiving’s Family Caregiver Alliance hosts this search tool, which provides a wide variety of links to resources for caregivers in all 50 states. Use the simple state tool to access a drop-down list of organizations and tools for everything from stroke care to signing up for state Medicaid programs. The updated directory explains each resource, along with contact info for getting assistance.
Looking for information and support specific to caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia? The Alzheimer’s Association’s map feature will help you locate the resource group nearest you, staffed by trained professionals. Support groups specifically designed for those with early stages of these diseases are offered separately from those who are in the later stages.
For those who are working within the Veteran’s Affairs system to get help for their loved one, the VA currently offers caregiver support coordinators at each VA Medical Center to help caregivers find the right support to meet their needs and to enroll in caregiver programs and services. You can also check out the VA’s National Caregiver Support Line (CSL) — 1-855-260-3274 — which serves as a primary resource/referral center to assist caregivers, veterans and others seeking caregiver information.
Caregivers who need respite care or information on how to become eligible for funded care can connect to this resource free of charge. Included in the support tools is a National Respite Locator, which also provides information for each of the 50 states’ respite agencies.
While new chapters of this growing network still need to be established in most areas, there is a chance to connect with other children who have been given the role of parent caregiver through their website and online tools. Those interested in leading a chapter are encouraged to get in touch.
Whether the person you care for has already been suffering from mental health challenges, they have suddenly found themselves dealing with depression or anxiety, or you have found the caregiving role to be a burden on your mental health, there is support available. The Mental Health America network can put you in touch with someone to assist either you or your loved one. They also have an affiliate network standing by to get you the assistance you need.
This group is very active in changing public policy and making strides toward accessible programs for all kinds of caregivers. In addition to the important events and conferences they put on, they have a network of coalitions to reach out to for help. Their coalitions are responsible for providing tools, research and advocacy at the state and regional levels.
Caregivers come in all ages and stages of life. This organization has assembled one of the largest directories of programs and coalitions for those who provide care. Search by county or state to find others like you.