By Naomi Edwards, Program Specialist
Friendship Center Montecito
One of the most rewarding, yet challenging, jobs in the world is caregiver. Some choose this path, while for others it is chosen for them. When a sudden accident, terminal illness, or other life-altering event strikes, members of the affected person’s care network (family or friends) are called to action to provide assistance for their loved one.
For caregivers, this may be a gradual step, or a sudden and overwhelming shift. Either way, when caregivers are required on short notice to step into the role of caring for their loved one, often their attention to self-care is left behind. Within the realm of self-care is the extremely important aspect of socializing and keeping up with one’s community, something that is not easily done while providing care to another.
One thing the Friendship Center team encourages is for our amazing caregivers to socialize with one another. Time with family members, friends, and colleagues is very important, but socializing with other caregivers is key. Being able to connect with those on a similar path, going through similar things with their loved ones creates a bond understood by only those in that situation. Humans are social creatures thriving on companionship, communication, and support. When we are not provided with adequate amounts of these, we can become isolated and even experience cognitive decline, ourselves.
There are many benefits to joining a caregiver support group and socializing with other caregivers–not only a sense of community and the assurance that you are not alone, but studies have shown that it could also benefit your overall health. Increased social isolation is something many caregivers are prone to, but making sure you maintain strong social connections and carve out time for yourself will help with caregiver-related stress.
Being able to express your day-to-day struggles and triumphs in a caring environment with people going through similar situations is both freeing and supportive. We have received feedback from our caregiving community that even a couple of hours a week of talking out one’s challenges and successes with those in similar situations proves extremely beneficial. When caregivers feel more supported themselves, they are able to do their job better.
To promote caregiver socializing and peer support among our fabulous network of caregivers, Friendship Center will begin hosting monthly support groups at our Montecito location. This group will meet from 10:15 to 11:15am on the last Thursday of each month (with the exception of November and December) and is open to all providing any form of care to a loved one. The group, free of charge, is facilitated by Marisa Pasquini, founder and trainer of the National Home Care Academy, and Kathryn Cherkas, MPH, Program Manager of Friendship Center Montecito. The first meeting will be held February 27th.
Please RSVP to Kim or Kathryn, firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 969-0859. We are also able to provide information and resources on other local support groups, just give us a call!