Memory care support groups offer an opportunity for caregivers, family, friends, or those with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia to provide support to one another in group settings.
What is a Memory Care Support Group?
Led either by trained facilitators or a member, memory care support groups offer people in similar circumstances the chance to share practical advice and coping skills, as well as to express their feelings, concerns, and frustrations.
The group may meet in person or virtually. Some groups will also have an online forum component where members can share stories, ask questions, and encourage one another.
Most support group meetings are held using informal formats and offer open discussion. Occasionally, there may be guest speakers to provide information about specific aspects of memory care management. Some groups are intended only for caregivers, some are specifically for persons with dementia, and others combine the two categories.
Benefits of a Memory Care Support Group
Here are some of the potential benefits of participating in a memory care support group. For caregivers, a support group could help you:
- Gain insights and practical advice on caring for your loved one.
- Feel less lonely and isolated in your circumstances.
- Feel empowered and more in control over the situation.
- Be in the know about new treatment or therapeutic options.
For seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, the opportunity to talk with one another can provide a sense of shared experience and the feeling that one is not alone. In a memory care support group setting, everyone is aware of the illness, so participants are not as likely to feel judged or embarrassed.
Group participants often feel a sense of release and even enjoy moments of humor in relating their particular challenges to one another. This is because the group provides a social experience that interrupts the self-preoccupation that sometimes accompanies early-stage dementia.
How do I Find a Memory Care Support Group
You can find a group that meets locally, or one that is nationally-based, such as the Alzheimer’s Association.
Some hospitals, memory care communities, or religious organizations may host memory care support groups. You can also contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, or the local Area Agency on Aging, to find a group near you.
- Long Island chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association
- Greater New Jersey chapter of the Alzheimer's Association
- Suffolk County Area Agency on Aging
- Nassau County Department of Human Services
- Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services
- NYC Department for the Aging
Memory Care Support at The Bristal
Another type of support group is the Our Place Memory Café, sponsored by The Bristal Assisted Living and its peer care partners.
Based on a concept pioneered in the Netherlands in 1997 by psychiatrist Dr. Bere Miesen, the “memory café” creates a welcoming and relaxed setting in a local restaurant. Those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and their families and friends share their feelings and fears and receive help and support. They participate in fun activities and enjoy entertainment, while an atmosphere of patience, understanding, and camaraderie is fostered.
The Our Place Memory Café was designed to allow caregivers to meet others in a relaxed and friendly environment. The sharing of knowledge and experiences helps participants to find mutual support – and oftentimes, new friendships. Caregivers and those with memory loss are encouraged, most of all, to just be themselves.