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Support Group Savvy

By Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 3)

Generally, online participation is free and can be accessed through any computer system, although registration may be a prerequisite to joining an online group. Be sure to read each site’s guidelines for participation and their privacy policies, learn how to enroll or un-enroll, and identify who sponsors the group.

Caregivers and others report that they prefer the flexibility, convenience, anonymity and value of connecting with and hearing from a large, diverse group of people online. They can find a community of support right at their fingertips from peers and professionals across the nation and even throughout the world.
Another invaluable feature of the computer age is the wealth of knowledge that can be accessed online. Useful resources, newsletters, connections to disease-specific sites, medical and research updates and self-care tips are just a few examples of additional wisdom available on the internet.

Attending a Group Together

Chronic conditions become family conditions and what affects one will in some way affect others in the family system. For this reason, many settings encourage family participation to gain information and support. Some support groups, such as those for Parkinson’s disease, MS and cancer, especially encourage caregivers or “care partners” to attend meetings along with their loved one who is living with a disability or chronic illness. Learning together and receiving support together keeps people focused and helps to equalize the disease experience for all who are involved. This mutual encounter offers immeasurable benefits to both parties and creates a solidarity that can carry couples and families through the peaks and valleys of a health condition.

Caregiving is like a kaleidoscope that continually changes dimensions with each turn. Throughout this uncertain journey, receiving support from others may be the one constant factor that keeps you on track. Whether you attend a group alone or with your loved one or prefer to find support online, choosing a support group that feels right for you is the most important decision.

Search for support groups available online or try these suggested sites for Internet support:

www.caregiver.com
www.cancercare.org
www.alz.org
www.parkinson.org

 

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