If you can’t find an existing caregiver support group, what then? Simple. Start one. It can be done institutionally, such as by an employer or a large workforce, or a church or other faith community. The basic requirement for “critical mass” is about a half-dozen people, though even three people can have a lively and effective support group. They need to be willing to meet regularly. Here are some ideas:
· Talk to your loved one’s doctor to see if that office would be willing to put out the word among other patients and their caregivers so you could gather.
· Put out the word through your local community newspaper, cable access TV station, radio station or workplace newsletter. Put announcements in the newsletters of the local hospitals, and in the bulletins of local churches.
· Find a quiet, private spot where you can meet. Aside from an un-used office at work, other places might be at the local library, the senior center, the hospital or a church.
· When you meet, have a lightly organized agenda. Share caregiver information from an outside source, and perhaps have group members recommend an article they read in a magazine or on-line, a book or a website. After that let the members take turns talking about their concerns and questions.
· Be sure to get the members to agree not to interrupt anyone while she or he is talking. Questions at the end are OK. After a member has shared their concerns, the group can offer advice based on experience, if the sharing person would like it.
One group that is beginning to form in Southern California decided to use the 52 Design Review Sessions, or chapters of Blueprint for Caregiving as outlines for their meetings. Because each chapter is two to four pages in length, they provide just enough material on a single caregiving topic, and that makes Blueprint very useful for support groups.
Blueprint for Caregiving has four forms, all of which exist as print-out CDs. Blueprint for Cancer Caregiving, for Dementia Caregiving, for Elder Caregiving, and the generalized version under the title Blueprint for Caregiving. You can’t listen to them, but you can load them into your computer and read them on the monitor, or print them out to read wherever you go.
For more information about Blueprint for Caregiving, please visit www.blueprintforcaregiving.com