Support, and So Much More

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Support, and So Much More

Teresatalk
iStock_000014623357_lowresI was surprised this morning that Dean actually recognized a cold coming on. He said his throat hurt, and his hoarse voice indicated the same. He also said it hurt about a week ago, but it appears that was just a ploy to get some of my fruit-flavored cough drops in his pocket. I've been waiting for him to have symptoms (more than one seems to help in the diagnosis), since I'm just getting over a cold myself.

This inability to recognize his own health condition is most likely connected with his brain injury. It makes me very happy we found a support group for brain injury survivors not long after his accident. It has helped Dean recognize that he does have a brain injury and it's responsible for the many changes in our life following the tractor accident. Almost every new person who comes to the meeting is in a state of denial until they hear some of our stories and recognize similar challenges we all have in one degree or another.

Our monthly support group meeting was last night and it's one social setting where I can take Dean with no qualms about his behavior. They all know us and understand any irregularities, and they accept us anyway. One person at the support group, a well-respected person in the community who had an aneurysm several years ago, says our meeting is the only one where she can "let her hair down".

We all need a place to "let our hair down" and I highly recommend support groups for that and many other reasons. Almost all of them have caregivers in attendance. It's a needed support for us as well. Some caregivers even attend without their care receivers. Not only are resources and coping strategies shared, but there's an emotional bonding that takes place when you realize you are not struggling alone.

So, I recommend finding a support group for whatever disability you have an interest in. I also attend an Alzheimer's support group, because Dean's dementia symptoms are so similar to Alzheimer's. So be creative in finding a group.

If all else fails, try starting your own group. It's not as difficult as you think. There's lots information on the internet to get you started. Besides, more than one is a group, right? And if that's not feasible, there are chat rooms and internet support groups like the ones here on caregiving.com that can enhance your caregiving experience. They're a good supplement to your face-to-face offline support group.

The bottom line is don't think that needing a support group is a signal that you aren't coping. Nothing could be further from the truth. Support groups serve two purposes, the getting and giving of support, and every member finds satisfaction in both. So reach out for yourself and to others at your local support group!

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ejourneys

Amen, Teresa!\r\nI was nodding throughout this entry because it is very similar to what my partner and I experience. We attend a monthly MS support group and a weekly all-purpose 12-step group. Both are wonderful and both accept my partner as she is. It's made a big difference in both our lives. I'm so glad you and Dean have found this support.

Denise

Hi Teresa--I think it's so awesome to have a safe place to be who you are. :)\r\n\r\nWe have lots of material to help start a community support group; you'll find it all here: http://www.m40.siteground.biz/~caregiv6/start-a-caregiving-support-group-in-your-community/\r\n\r\nAlways so good to hear from you.