Hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets!

Things to Know About Support Groups

Episode 112

Rayna Neises, ACC, host, discusses support groups, what might be keeping you from being a part, what to expect and various kinds of groups.

  • [1:48] What could be holding you back from joining a support group:
    • [2:10] Feeling that you will be put on the spot and must share your story
    • [3:00] Feeling uncertain regarding what you would share about your loved one and concerned that others will be critical
    • [4:00] Thought that you would feel depressed or sad hearing other’s stories
    • [5:19] Not knowing what to expect
  • [6:00] When choosing a support group, it is important to find a good fit.
  • [6:32] Groups should have a structure they follow.
  • [8:16] Why attend?
    • [9:16] Reduce isolation
    • [10:00] Relieve stress
    • [10:35] Gain education
    • [11:26] Become more balanced
    • [14:15] Friendships
  • [15:09] Different kinds of groups:  Peer-Peer or Mutual, Association Groups, In-Person, Online, Facebook
  • [16:17] Try out the group to be sure it is a good fit. If it is not, do not be afraid to leave it and try a different one.
  • [16:43] Visit https://www.aseasonofcaring.com/a-season-of-caring-chat/ and find out more about Rayna’s free monthly support group or Nourish for Caregivers faith-based weekly support group.
  • [17:17] In June, join her book study via her Facebook group to find support through her book, No Regrets.


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

[00:00:00] Rayna Neises (2): Support by definition is one of those things that can be a noun or verb, and both are so critical in this your season of caring. Hi, this is Rayna Neises, your host on A Seasonal Caring Podcast, where there’s hope for living loving and caring with no regrets. Thank you for joining me today.

[00:00:21] Rayna Neises: Now you hear me say all the time, you cannot do this alone. And I mean that in so many different ways, but we talk a lot about building your team whenever we talk about not going in alone. And I think that is so important, but one of the pieces of the team that I haven’t been real specific about is a support group.

[00:00:42] I really encourage you to take a look at a support group. And we think about support groups there could be lots of things that go through our minds. But when I looked at the word support, it struck me support can be a verb it can be something that you’re offering to someone else, [00:01:00] but support is also a noun. A support is a thing that bears the weight. It physically does the job itself, whatever that is. That actually is so beautiful because that’s what a support group is. It both is the act of giving to others, supporting, lifting them up, encouraging them, giving them information, sharing your experience and it’s the receiving of it. The process of being actually supported in the season of caring.

[00:01:33] Today I’m going to share with you maybe some things that might be holding you back from finding a support group. I’m going to share some benefits of a support group, and hopefully give you some resources to plug into a support group that fits you.

[00:01:48] So first as I was thinking about this podcast, I thought about what is it that might be holding people back? Why won’t you seek out a support group? There are so many reasons [00:02:00] and I just came up with like four. The first one I was thinking about was maybe you might feel like you won’t have a choice, but you will be put on the spot. You will have to share your story.

[00:02:10] And for some people that’s extremely uncomfortable. Possibly even feeling uncertain of what you want to share about your loved one, the person that you’re caring for, we want to honor and respect them. And so that might be a barrier that’s kind of sitting in your mind. How could I share what’s happening in our home with other people and do that in a way of honor and respect?

[00:02:36] All support groups should have a clearly stated expectation of confidentiality. No one is there to take your story and gossip. So it’s very important that you’re comfortable with what you share, but also that you learn to trust those that are in the support group with your heart and with your concerns so that you can really find that that’s not something that can hold [00:03:00] you back.

[00:03:00] Another thing that might be going through your mind or making you nervous about thinking about walking into support group, it’s just how others will respond to what you say. You might feel that you’ll be criticized or you might be attacked for your feelings or for something that you’re doing. And I’d just like to assure you the best thing about a support group is that everybody there is in the thick of it as well. And they are not going to pass judgment. Now, there might be some things that they might disagree with you, but all of the support groups that I’ve been a part of, it’s not something that’s done in a way that puts you down or makes you feel judged. Someone else just might share their experience that’s different than yours.

[00:03:45] Feeling unsure of sharing your story or that you’re going to be put on the spot, or maybe being concerned about how it will be received those are two things that might be holding people back. Another one might be [00:04:00] that you would feel depressed or that you would be sad by hearing other people’s stories. And I can understand that I have heard some people say it’s hard for me to be a part of a group where I hear about what’s happening or what’s going to be coming for my loved one. I understand that, in fact, the support group that I facilitate online every week, we’ve recently had some deaths of the people that we’re caring for in our group and that’s been very hard.

[00:04:32] I know that others in the group are now. It kind of brings that check in place of, oh my goodness. You know, my loved one’s going to die too. And sometimes we get so in the thick of caring for our loved ones that we forget that that’s the reality.

[00:04:49] So you’re going to have those moments. I don’t know that they’re bad. They’re just reality. But the key is that with like all other burdens in life [00:05:00] sharing the weights actually will helps us to leave more encouraged and more uplifted. So if you find yourself in a group where that’s not how you feel when you leave. Don’t go back. There are so many different choices out there. Find the one that is a good fit for you.

[00:05:19] Last barrier I wanted to throw out was just maybe not knowing what to expect when you go to a support group. There are many different types of support groups. When I’m talking support group, I’m talking peer led support group. This is really just a group of people who are coming together, who share something in common. It might just be caregiving in general. It might be the disease of the person that they’re caring for, or it might be a faith or an interest. Those different things, all weave you together. And so each of those types of support groups are usually led by a volunteer. Who’s had some training, some are going to be more equipped than [00:06:00] others. And so again, that’s part of where finding a good fit for you comes in.

[00:06:05] But there should definitely be clear rules an agenda, and an outline of what’s expected. Your facilitator should recognize you as being new. They will frequently speak to you and really welcome you into the group. That’s a little trickier when you’re leading an online group, because that happens obviously in front of everyone else, but really making sure that you’re feeling supported and welcome.

[00:06:32] The group will have specific structure. For example, the group that I lead online every week is a faith-based group. So we start out in prayer. We share a scripture and just how that speaks to us in the moment. And then we go around and share an update on how things are going, how we can support each other through that time.

[00:06:53] Some support groups that I’m a part of will share curriculum or a topic. that, it helps you maybe [00:07:00] process through what’s going on. For example, communication, and actually talk about communicating with the person you’re caring for or other family members. And then talk about how we can support each other.

[00:07:12] Some support groups might have a guest speaker that comes in to share information about the specific disease or their experience with that disease. So each one is a little bit different, again, finding out the structure, what’s the goal of this group and how does it go about functioning? You can ask those questions before you even visit, but I think helping you to know that there is a specific structure and what’s typically shared and how it’s facilitated makes a big difference.

[00:07:39] And again, just knowing whether or not it’s a peer led group or whether or not it’s a professional group. As far as being facilitated by a counselor or someone specific in that way, but I think really just to reemphasize, if you visit a support group, that’s not a good fit for you. Keep looking because [00:08:00] amazingly, there are tons of different kinds of support groups and different support groups around specific needs out there. Don’t let one bad experience really put you off of the opportunity to get the support that you need during the season.

[00:08:16] So why attend a support group? Why is that important? I think the number one thing is to reduce your isolation. Last week on podcast, 111 with Kim and Mike Barnes, we talked about the fact that people just don’t talk about caring for their aging parents. I think that’s true. whatever kind of caregiving you’re doing, people are so uncomfortable. They don’t want to bring something up that might be sad, or they don’t want to make you worry more if you’re actually getting a little time away from your loved one. So I think they just don’t talk about it.

[00:08:53] So let’s put ourselves in a room full of people who are all in this season and were all, wanting to [00:09:00] talk about it. We’re all going through it. And we go there for the purpose of sharing. And so it allows us to be emotionally ready to have someone say how’s mom, even when the answer isn’t good.

[00:09:16] I think that’s one of the best reasons to be a part, to eliminate the isolation, to quiet all the things that might be going through your head that you never say to anyone, and to really find those that are journeying this same path with you so important and so valuable to you and your self-care. We know research tells us it helps us to manage our stress.

[00:09:47] As I said at the beginning support is having something holding you up. And when we offer our story, we offer our journey, we offer our struggles. [00:10:00] It’s like we’re sharing it out amongst the group and we don’t have to carry it all ourselves. But rather this whole group of people get up underneath that concern, that heavy burden and they hold it with us. And putting yourself in a place to intentionally receive that, helps to relieve the stress. It just does. They don’t look at you and think she’s crazy, or why is that such a big deal? They know, they know the answer to why that’s such a big deal because they’re there too.

[00:10:35] Support groups also offer education, whether it be you’re in a support group around a specific illness, like a diabetes support group or cancer support group. They know a lot of information about the illness that your loved one is facing. But even if you’re in a general caregiver support group, there are others there that are carrying similar loads that are farther down the path than [00:11:00] you and there’s education that’s available.

[00:11:03] Obviously some of the nonprofits have some amazing support groups and they have a lot of education to offer you. So when you’re looking for support group, think about what you’re looking to get out of it because education can be very empowering and it definitely helps you to be able to get ideas and solutions from other people farther, along in the journey than you are.

[00:11:26] I think another benefit of a support group is it really encourages you to be more balanced. And that might be funny to hear when you first hear it because you think, well, how does that work? These relationships, that form in the support group are people that are seeing you week in and week out, month in and month out. And they’re seeing if maybe you’re not doing as well as you have been. They can see in your countenance, whether things are [00:12:00] heavier than they have been before, or possibly if you’re not taking care of yourself.

[00:12:05] Probably not every leader feels as free to do this as I do, but on my online support group, if I can sense that someone’s not doing well, I ask them. And if they don’t open up to us at that point and are honest about what’s happening, then usually I’ll give them a little nudge. It looks like today you’re feeling a little down or you look really tired. Have you been sleeping? Okay. We can just prode. We can ask a few little questions for the benefit of you to allow you to know. Maybe, maybe you haven’t stopped to think about the fact that you haven’t been resting. Maybe you just kept on pushing through and really hadn’t considered how much it’s impacting you or maybe you just haven’t admitted it to anyone else. I think sometimes a support group just gives you [00:13:00] that group of people who really can come alongside and look out for you.

[00:13:05] Then if you’re not living in balance so that if you’re finding yourself in a place that things are too overwhelming and you’re doing too much, that they can gently say, Hey, I’m noticing, is everything Okay? How are you doing, can you find help? I’ve asked people that in our group, do you think maybe it’s time to start looking again to let someone in your home, or do you think maybe it’s time to ask that person to just hang out for a few hours with your loved one while you just get away, or while you nap? The support group opens the door to other people in your life that might be able to gently say those things when they see that you’re not living in balance. I think it also helps you to see other people and how they’re balancing it. I found in my online support group that as people have been open [00:14:00] to receiving help, others are realizing maybe I need to get help too. So we really learned that balance from each other, from seeing each other live this process out in front of other people and being a part of that consistently.

[00:14:15] And I think you’re going to guess one of the other most valuable benefits to support group is the friendships that are developed. On an online support group you might not even live while you probably won’t even live in the same state as the other people in the group in a face-to-face support group it might be the person that you see at the grocery store, or it might be someone that you can actually pick up the phone and meet for coffee someday. Just allow the friendships to develop in the way that they naturally will by supporting each other. Don’t underestimate the value of having that friend who really gets the season and being able to pick up the phone and have that conversation outside of the group, if you develop that [00:15:00] relationship. I encourage you to think about what a friends could do for you, who really understands where you.

[00:15:09] So we talked about maybe some of the barriers that might get in the way of trying a support group. We’ve talked about some of the benefits of attending a support group. And let’s talk a little bit about different kinds of support groups. I’ve already mentioned that we can have peer-to-peer support groups or they’re called mutual support groups as well.

[00:15:29] There are association support groups, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Parkinson’s Association, the cancer society. There’s all kinds of different associations, which has support groups. And you can reach out to 2, 1, 1 to find a list of local support groups in your area. And that is definitely very valuable to be able to attend the face-to-face support groups.

[00:15:52] Don’t forget that there are online options available as well. And even Facebook group. There’s all different [00:16:00] kinds we talked in episode 111 with Kim and Mike Barnes who started Parenting Your Aging Parents online group and how they’re really functioning as a support group. But there are thousands of support groups available online in Facebook and other locations.

[00:16:17] Remember that when you jumped in, if they’re not your people, if it’s not your environment jump out . Don’t allow one bad experience to be the one that makes you decide that it’s not for you. Facebook groups or those types of things, you don’t have to jump into those things and just share everything right away. You can observe, you can see if it’s a good fit for you. And I do encourage that. So take a look at what’s available out there.

[00:16:43] At the time of this podcast, I do not have a Facebook group that’s like a support group. Rather. I have a monthly support group that’s free and open to any daughter who is caring for an aging parent or any season of life if you would like to join us, I’m more than happy to have you [00:17:00] be a part. Just jump on to seasonal, caring.com and find groups. And you’ll learn more about how you can sign up for that once a month, free support group. I will be leading a book study of No Regrets Hope for Your Caregiving Season in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the book launch.

[00:17:17] So in June, we’ll be going through the book together and supporting each other through conversation with a Facebook group associated with my Facebook page, a season of Caring for An Aging Parent. So I’d love to have you be a part of that. You can find support in all different ways. So that book group is a form of a support group, but did you know there’s also poetry support groups?

[00:17:40] I have a gentleman that I know from support groups that actually has been a part of a poetry support group. And it’s one that just helps them process their feelings through writing. I think that’s amazing. There are also art therapy support groups. That can be a one-time class or an actual [00:18:00] group that meets frequently.

[00:18:01] I really want to encourage you today, as you think about your self-care. Do you have the support that you need and how could a support group meet your need with where you are right now in this season? Thank you again for joining me today. And just a reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast was created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial medical or legal questions, be sure to consult your local providers and take heart in your season of caring.

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Your turn, share your thoughts . . .

1 Comment

  1. io game

    Hi there, I enjoy reading all of your article. I like to write a little comment to support you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our list below now and never miss an episode.

Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

An ICF Certified Coach, Author of No Regrets:  Hope for Your Caregiving Season, Podcaster, & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected.

Rayna Neises

New Episode Weekly |  Live Every Thursday @ 9am

Would you like to be a Guest?  |  Email Rayna

Stay Connected to Get the Latest Podcast Alerts

Rayna Neises: A Season of Caring