When people reach their senior years, they may need help managing addiction recovery, grief, chronic illness, dementia, or lifestyle changes. Support groups can help older adults cope with both ongoing conditions and change. Resources are available in person or online to address problems and offer opportunities to socialize.
Senior citizens often find it challenging to cope with the changes they undergo while aging. Family members also struggle with watching their loved ones through the transitions of leaving their independent living situations, losing friends and spouses, and suffering through serious illnesses.
For these and other issues, there are support groups made to help. Support group meetings put people with similar experiences together so they can offer support to one another through these transitions and difficult times.
What Are Some Of The Common Issues For Seniors?
- Addiction: One issue that people of all ages sometimes have to deal with, older adults included, is addiction. There are many types of groups that provide support as you deal with addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or another vice. The problems specific to old age can trigger or worsen addiction.
- Caregiver Support: It is not uncommon for a spouse to become a primary caregiver for their partner. Getting social support is important because the demands and isolation of being a caregiver can be challenging.
- Death and Grief: Growing older comes with the very significant issue of watching people you love die. Handling grief and loss can be very difficult, and having support through this process can improve the person’s overall well-being.
- Depression: Mental health issues and depression are genuine health conditions that cannot be ignored. Sometimes getting emotional support in addition to working with a physician can be life-changing for the person suffering from depression.
- Illness: Support groups out there for everything from heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and dementia can help those who suffer and their families understand and live with illness.
- Losing Independence: Whether you are moving out of your home or accepting in-home care, losing your independence is hard.
- Mobility Difficulties: Needing help to get around can be very humbling and difficult to accept. In a support group for this, group members understand your struggles.
What Are The Benefits Of Joining Senior Support Groups?
There are many benefits to joining a support group.
- Assistance in locating providers and senior services you need.
- Emotional support is another excellent perk of joining a support group. Knowing that other people are having the same struggles can be liberating.
- Find referrals to services to physicians, other groups, or an area agency that can help you can come as a result of a support group.
- Less isolation may occur when you find the right support system.
- Receiving advice on whatever your concerns are may come from the support group.
- Find an advocate to help improve your quality of life. Some people don’t have the time, means, or ability to self-advocate. Support groups can provide some advocacy that the members need.
How Can Seniors Find The Support Groups They Need?
Looking for the self-help that a support group might offer? There are many different places you can look to find the right people.
- AARP: The American Association for Retired People is an excellent organization with a vast reach. It has many support groups for caregivers, grief, black and Latino seniors, LBTQ seniors, weight loss, and more.
- Alzheimer’s Association: If you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, check with the Alzheimer’s Association for support.
- American Cancer Society: Those who suffer from cancer (or have a loved one who does) can find a support group to help them by contacting the American Cancer Society.
- Elderly Services: One way to find local support is to reach out to your local agency for aging..
- Health Care Provider: Physicians, nurses, and specialists may have referrals to support groups to help you cope and adjust. This is true whether you are suffering from cancer, dementia, grief, or something else.
- Online: Searching on social media, websites, and in chat rooms are great places to get suggestions from organizations that might help you.
- Senior Centers: Many communities have senior centers that are operational and open to guests for at least a few days each week. Consider reaching out to them for ideas.
What Is The Most Requested Support Service For The Elderly?
Although it is not exactly a support group, one specific service is requested more than any other. That is transportation. Elderly people often find it difficult to get to appointments, the grocery store, and other places. This is true for many reasons. Seniors sometimes give up driving because their mobility issues make driving dangerous. Others have vision problems. Still, others can’t drive due to dementia.
Whatever the cause of their inability to transport themselves, seeking transportation assistance is the most requested support service for the elderly.
What Other Things Can Older People Get Involved In?
There are some excellent things that seniors can get involved in.
- Book clubs: Are you an avid reader? Either find or start up a book club. You can get together a group of people, take turns choosing a book and read it together.
- Exercise classes: Just because you are older does not mean your physical wellness is not important. Joining exercise classes is a great way to stay healthy and make friends.
- Weight Management: Consider Weight Watchers (WW) or other programs if you want to drop a few pounds.
- Sports: Senior sports like pickleball or shuffleboard are a great way to get some fresh air and meet others.
- Volunteer Work: Many people assume that you reach an age when you can no longer volunteer. You are never too old to listen to a struggling reader read to you or to sit at the volunteer desk at a local hospital. Do you still walk a little? Ask if there is a mellow senior dog you can walk at the animal shelter.
How Can Online Support Groups Help Seniors?
Online support groups can also prove very helpful. Even if you are not able to leave the comfort of your home or room, you can get help. They can help you to feel less isolated if you are depressed and alone.
Online support groups can provide the same type of assistance that an in-person group can provide. Whether you are looking for substance abuse support, grief counseling, or to develop coping skills to help you handle illness, a group dynamic might help you.
Why is Socialization An Important Benefit Of Joining Support Groups?
Many senior citizens feel alone, and support groups can combat that. Understanding that what you are struggling through is not something you are the only person dealing with can make you feel a lot better about your situation. While it does not make the problem disappear, at least you know you are not alone in your battle.
Elderly people, in particular, are susceptible to feeling isolated, especially if they live alone. Support groups can help to build a sense of community.