Local Support Group Opportunity for Those With Chronic Illness and Their Caregivers

Thursday, 03 March 2016 10: 03
Written by Joni B. Bailey


It was recently announced that the Jackson County Health Department and SIH are collaborating to offer a 6-week program for those suffering from chronic illness and their caregivers.  See more details below, as well as 5 reasons chronically ill people and their caregivers in the Southern Illinois area should take full advantage of the opportunity!

Program Information

Start Date:  March 8, 2016
Time:  Tuesdays 9:00 am to 11:30 am 
Location:  St. Andrew Knights of Columbus Hall in Murphysboro
Details:  At least 10-15 participants are needed for this program.  People who want to enroll can call Lisa Nation at SIH, 618-457-5200, ext. 67837.

Why join a support group?

1. Support groups are an indispensable source of helpful information.

How do you find out about new opportunities, benefits, and programs for people in your situation?  The best way is to join a support group.

Meeting with a local group is often better than making online searches, as not all local opportunities available may be listed online.  It's also a lot more enjoyable to share tips and information with people in real life than it is browsing old forum posts online that may be out of date by the time you find them.

2. Belonging to a group is a reminder that you're not alone in your situation.

Both caregivers and people suffering from chronic illness can feel alone and isolated in their situation.  Caregivers often struggle with the heavy time commitment and the emotional weight of caring for a loved one.  People in need of caregiving often feel depressed and guilty for not being able to take care of themselves.  It's common for both parties to keep these feelings to themselves to avoid hurting the other person, and to quietly suffer alone as a result.

Whether you are a caregiver or a person being cared for, belonging to a support group can alleviate much of the emotional pain that results from feeling alone in your situation.  It can be very reassuring to meet others who have walked in your shoes.

3. Support groups give you access to uncommon life lessons and wisdom. 

In past generations, it was common for extended families to stick together.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles were more likely to play a role in teaching and caring for children.  This meant that children grew up with a broader perspective and were able to make better life choices as a result.  Nowadays, our society is moving away from that construct, forcing many children to have to "reinvent the wheel" and make many of the same mistakes that their grandparents and parents did.

The same concept applies when it comes to caregiving.  As a caregiver, joining a support group effectively saves you from having to "reinvent the wheel" when it comes to caregiving wisdom.  Many mistakes and regrets in your caregiving journey can be avoided by learning from the personal stories and advice of others in the group.

4. The friendships you make through your support group are lasting.

When life takes a turn and you find yourself in the role of caregiver, it can wreak havoc on your personal relationships.  Maintaining friendships becomes difficult.  People suddenly don't know what to say.  Little by little, the distance grows.

Support groups allow you to connect with people who "get it".  Rather than pushing people away, in a support group the common experience of caring for a chronically ill or disabled love one is be the very thing that connects you to others.  

5. Your loved one will thank you for taking care of yourself!

Nobody wants to see their loved ones suffer.  It is especially painful when they feel like they are the cause of their loved one's suffering.  Chronically ill and disabled people, as mentioned above, often feel depressed and fear that they are "standing in the way" of their caregiver leading a happy, "normal" life.

When caregivers take time to care for their own physical, mental, and emotional needs, they are not only in a better position to provide care, but they are also able to enjoy their life and reassure the person being cared for that they are not a burden.


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