A chance to share your own experiences … a chance to listen to and learn from those who are already walking in a caregiver’s shoes … a chance to gain some personal time away from your own caregiving responsibilities … a caregiving support group can offer you a great deal and an opportunity for respite which you may not have considered. Admittedly however, you may be uncomfortable participating in such a group … in this case, how can you still benefit from everything a support group has to offer you?
Hesitant (or more private) caregivers may prefer to seek out on-line caregiving groups and message boards. With these, you can remain anonymous (or use an alias, if you so choose) and participate in discussions most relevant to you (most on-line groups will separate conversations into differing categories where you can pick and choose from). Another advantage to on-line groups is their availability to caregivers living in smaller towns and/or communities. Resources in such places are often more limited, but caregivers should not be penalized for choosing to live somewhere which may not be able to support a physical caregiving support group. As long as you have a working Internet connection, you can log on.
On-line caregiving message boards are available around the clock. If you have a caregiving question at 3:00 a.m., you can go ahead and ask it. When you need information, you won’t have to wait several weeks or a month for the next scheduled meeting. In the case of inclement weather, a caregiver can also be saved a (possibly risky) drive to a support group meeting and can find help on-line from the comfort of his/her own home. On-line message groups can also save a caregiver a great deal of time (as there is no driving to and from a venue and caregivers are not required to remain at a support group meeting for an hour or more – they can quickly type out their question and then log out instead).
Caregivers joining online message boards need to realize that such communities can be set up by anybody quite easily. Therefore, try to find one where the moderator has some professional credentials and/or related experience. It can also be helpful to locate a message board which has existed for some time … this will indicate the group’s stability and suggests that the board will not be suddenly dropped (and leaving you out in the cold). Evaluate the approach of an on-line message board – is it more casual or formal?
The following on-line message boards may be of interest to you (but feel free to explore others as well):
- The Alzheimer Society of Canada Message Board/Forum: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/We-can-help/Alzheimer-society-message-board.
- Health Boards Health Message Boards: http://www.healthboards.com/boards/caregivers/.
- The Cancer Forums: http://www.cancerforums.net/.
- Caring.com Forums: https://www.caring.com/support-groups.
- Brain Injury Canada Forums http://braininjurycanada.ca/forums/
- Caregiver Space http://thecaregiverspace.org/chat/
- Caring.com www.caring.com
- Featured Groups for Caregivers https://www.caring.com/support-groups
- Daily Strength Online Support Group Finder http://www.dailystrength.org/support-groups
- Distress Centre http://www.distresscentre.com/
- Online Chat at http://m2.icarol.com/ConsumerRegistration.aspx?org=2181&pid=1
- Family Caregiver Alliance https://www.caregiver.org
- Family Caregiver Alliance offers three different online support groups for caregivers and their loved ones. Online support page at https://www.caregiver.org/support-groups
- 7Cups Online Chat Room http://www.7cups.com/connect/groupChatrooms.php
- +Support Groups http://online.supportgroups.com/
- Caregivers Support Group http://caregivers.supportgroups.com/
Please watch for my further discussion and tips on caregiver self-care in the months ahead on The Caregiver Network.