Support groups for caregivers of people with dementia can be beneficial in various ways. By speaking with others who are in a similar situation, people may gain comfort, understanding, knowledge, and support.
Support groups are spaces where people in similar circumstances can share their experiences, receive support from people with an understanding of their situation, and offer support to others.
Support groups may take place in person, with people regularly meeting in a physical space to discuss their experiences. Alternatively, people may participate online or by phone.
Being a caregiver for someone with dementia
Joining a support group may alleviate some of the stress involved in these challenges and help a person gain comfort, understanding, and useful knowledge.
This article looks at what support groups are, what they can offer, who may benefit from them, and what types of support groups are available. It also discusses how to find support groups and other options for support.
While a caregiver for a person with dementia may receive sympathy and a helping hand from family and friends, a support group can offer a different kind of help.
Caregiver support groups can provide people with:
- a respite from their daily challenges
- a chance to share experiences
- a safe space to express concerns
- a place to receive emotional comfort
- an opportunity to receive practical tips
While support groups can be vital resources for some caregivers of people with dementia, they may not be right for everyone.
If a person is not comfortable hearing other people’s experiences or discussing sensitive issues of their own, they may not find the experience helpful.
Another consideration is whether the support group is free, as many are, or charges a fee. In some instances, health insurance may cover the fee for a support group.
When choosing a support group, a person may want to identify features that might make their experience more or less comfortable.
These may include:
- whether the group meets in person, online, by phone, or a mixture of these
- how many people are in the group
- what they hope to gain from joining the group
- who else has joined the group
- who leads the group
If people prefer not to meet in person with a support group, or if they find it more convenient to attend a group online, they may wish to join a forum or social media group or attend a webinar for caregivers of people with dementia.
The following groups offer online support for caregivers of people with dementia:
Alzheimer’s Association: ALZconnected
This is a free online community for people who are experiencing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
Caregivers, family and friends of people living with dementia, and individuals with dementia can find support, ask questions, and receive advice.
A person can visit ALZconnected.org and choose from among the available message boards.
Hope Health Dementia Caregiver Support Groups
This organization hosts support groups 5 days per week via Zoom for caregivers of people with dementia.
A person can visit the website for more information.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers Support Chat Group
This is a large Facebook support group in which a community of more than 9,000 members discusses topics such as hospice care, management of medication, and treatment options.
Jean O’Connor started the group as a way of finding community while caring for her father, who has dementia.
A person can request to join the group on the Facebook page.
People who prefer to join a telephone support group rather than an online or in-person meeting may wish to consider the following two options:
- Santa Rosa Dementia Family Caregiver Support Group: This organization offers a support group via telephone and Zoom webinar. It provides a confidential, safe environment for caregivers of people with dementia to connect with others in the same situation and offer information and skill development.
- Black Dementia Family Caregiver Support Group: This organization offers support to African American and Black caregivers of people with dementia.
A person can register on the Alzheimer’s Association Community Resource Finder.
Once a person has done this, they should receive an email confirmation that contains the call-in information and instructions on how to join the call.
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA)
The AFA provides support for caregivers over the phone. The sessions take place weekly and are free to join.
To join a support group, a person can contact the AFA by calling the helpline or by clicking on the chat icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
- Telephone: 866-232-8484
- Text: 646-586-5283
- Webchat: ALZFDN.ORG
A person can learn more here.
Many in-person support groups are available to caregivers of people with dementia.
A person can search for support groups near them using the Alzheimer’s Association website.
People can find support groups through the following resources:
People in the United Kingdom can find support groups using the following resources:
Some financial resources may help cover the costs of care for a person with dementia. These include:
- Insurance: Medicare, private insurance, retiree health coverage, or a group employee plan may help a person pay for dementia care. This may alleviate financial strain on a caregiver.
- Retirement benefits: Even if the person with dementia has not yet reached retirement age, these benefits can sometimes provide financial resources.
- Government assistance: The government may be able to provide financial assistance in some cases, such as by providing Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and tax deductions and credits.
- Veterans’ services: Veterans living with dementia may qualify for financial assistance through Veterans Affairs services.
- Community programs: Community organizations may provide free or low cost services — such as support groups, home delivery of meals, and informal care — for people with dementia and caregivers.
Resources such as helplines can connect caregivers with dementia specialists and answer questions.
The Alzheimer’s Association provides a free 24-7 helpline that puts people in contact with specialists who can provide support and information.
A person can contact this hotline using 800-272-3900. They should then dial 711 to connect with an operator.
Support groups can be beneficial for caregivers of people with dementia in a variety of ways. They help connect groups of people who have similar experiences and challenges and give them the opportunity to provide understanding, comfort, and valuable information.
Support groups can meet in person, online, by phone, or through a combination of these methods.
Other resources for caregivers of people with dementia include dedicated helplines and information from reputable online sources.