Support groups provide crucial lifeline for family caregivers

Carmichael, CA

Sheryl Troutman, Support Group Member
(To support group) Well, like Dad, sometimes he remembers that his wife is gone, and other times he does not remember.

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According to AARP there are approximately 4.45 million caregivers in California. Caregivers are at high risk for mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. One of the main causes is a lack of support system.

Steve Fong, Care Group Member
My wife has not said a word for basically the last two years. I have no idea of what’s in her mind. I don’t know if she’ll feeling pain. I have to guess and all that good stuff and whatever. But, you know, she goes to see the doctor. She goes to see the dentist. Of course they check her out and everything but my situation is entirely different than anyone else I’ve head from.

(To support group) It’s nice to get away and come back and just kind of go “Well, it’s…it’s back to where it is. Doing the same thing I’ve been doing.” It’s probably easier the first couple of days, but it kind of goes back to the same routine.

It makes me realize that I’m not in it by myself. It’s not only me that this is happening to. Other people are in the same boat I am in.

Joe Johnson, Support Group Facilitator
We share everything from works best for feeding them, or changing their depends or stuff like that. Some people come thinking that they’re done, they can’t do this anymore. After a couple of groups they find out that they can.

Sheryl Troutman, Support Group Member
(To support group) Sometimes I go for weeks and it seems that he’s perpetually miserable, and it just breaks my heart. It’s like I don’t know any way to make him at least content, let alone happy or joyful about something.

My father has a condition called Anosognosia with Alzheimer’s. Where he thinks he’s ok…he thinks he got a little bit of memory loss, which is common as you get older, and he doesn’t acknowledge that he has problems beyond that.

(To support group) He complains about the apartment, he calls it that “sh– hole.” And, you know, “How long have I been living in this blankity blank place?” And all of those kinds of things, but when I get him away from there and he’s got a chance to be with family, he’s…it’s rare for him to go more than two or three hours before he wants to go back. So it’s almost like that’s his comfort place even though he hates it.

I was crying a lot, and just breaking down and my daughter was kind of looking out for me — I see her a lot. She was very insistent. She said “Mom, you’re having meltdowns. You’re crying all the time. You need to go to a support group.” Originally she started coming with me every week and then, gradually, it was like every other week. And she just eventually trickled off.

Joe Johnson, Support Group Facilitator
The people that give it a chance and keep coming back, I find that it makes a big difference in their life.

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