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Support Groups
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Support groups are a lifeline for dementia caregivers. People who attend the groups I facilitate consistently say, "This is the only place where everyone knows what I'm talking about." Participants share strategies for addressing challenging behaviors, they teach each other about resources available locally, and teach each other how to take care of themselves, and if one member isn't doing that, s/he gets reprimanded and given suggestions. The theme 'If you don't take care of yourself, you cannot take care of someone else," is so true.
So what do caregivers do to care for themselves? I introduced a Scrabble gathering once a week. The players seldom talk 'dementia' concerns, but instead, share tea and a sweet and laugh a lot. Some read avidly which I've found is a great way to go to another place in your head. I usually have 2-3 books going at the same time; one for the bedside, one for the rocker on my warm sunlit front porch, and one for the kitchen. You see, I'm a caregiver of caregivers in my groups and sometimes carry their burdens with me. To avoid burnout, I care for myself.
Nearby there is the beautiful Arnold Arboretum where one caregiver walks to clear her head. Some meet to walk a the Neponset riverside park near their home. We've met many times to walk that park together and Castle Island too. .
Of course, eating well and having a good night's sleep always help. Take care of yourself!
Happy Spring! It is warming up here in Boston just in time for my birthday week I've taken off to garden, practice golf and catch up with family. 
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"I learned not to treat my father like a child; to continue to talk with him as an adult."

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