Finding Support
A support group of peers can be invaluable to both new and seasoned caregivers.

Caregivers of persons with dementia face difficult challenges. One of the most valuable benefits of being in a support group is learning about coping skills and helpful resources from your peers. Every person’s experience is so different, yet there are similarities that often only other caregivers can relate to. Many caregivers find new friends and social contacts in support groups.

Why Join a Support Group?

Talking to other people with similar experiences can help reduce your stress, frustration and isolation. Plus, other caregivers often have helpful advice on what worked for them. A support group can provide a safe place to express your own needs and deal with painful emotions, including aggression, anger, mourning and guilt. It is a relief to know you’re not alone.

The best groups for caregivers tend to be groups focused on the specific disease causing dementia and that provide a safe, trusting environment with a clear structure and facilitator. That said, your area may not have a disease-specific support group, yet you might find other caregivers like you in a dementia-related support group. Try the groups that appeal to you and meet your needs. It might help to talk to the facilitator or leader before the first meeting.

 

Support Groups at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center

 

Caregiver & Dementia Support Groups Beyond UC San Francisco

If there is not a disease-specific support group in your area, try some of these groups that focus on dementia or caregivers. You can check with a social worker at your hospital, adult day care centers, your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter or community organizations for recommendations. You can find help and good ideas from people dealing with similar issues.

  • The Alzheimer’s Association is a voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care and support and a private, nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s and related dementias research. Explore the Northern California and Northern Nevada chapter.
  • The ARCH National Respite Network includes a search function to help caregivers and professionals locate respite services in their community and advocacy for respite in policy and programs at the national, state and local levels.
  • Caregiver Action Network (CAN) provides education, peer support and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.
  • CaringBridge provides free websites that connect people experiencing a significant health challenge to family and friends.
  • CJD Support Network provides emotional and practical support for all strains of CJD and for those who are at greater risk of CJD.
  • Defeat Dementia Facebook Group is an online support group on Facebook.
  • Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) offers a wide array of services and publications based on caregiver needs at the local, state and national levels. Find state-by-state help for family caregivers.
  • LGBT Aging & Abilities Support Network (LAASN) provides supportive services that address social isolation as well as emotional, behavioral and health challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors and adults with disabilities.
  • National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of national organizations focusing on issues of family caregiving.
  • SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. 
  • Well Spouse provides peer support and education about the special challenges and unique issues facing “well” spouses every day.