March 3 was Caregiver Appreciation Day, and to celebrate we want to recognize the caregivers support group at Brandermill Woods. Organized by resident Margaret Fuson, this group offers a weekly respite for our residents who are caregivers—a chance to meet with other caregivers in the neighborhood, discuss issues they are facing, and work through the emotional challenges of being a caregiver.
“The group has really been a lifesaver for some of the residents who needed to find a time to get away from their responsibilities,” Margaret said. “That’s really important, because being a caregiver is so confining. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else, so you need to find time to do something for yourself, whether it’s exercising or even a trip to Food Lion. Our support group offers a chance to get away.”
Caregiving as ministry
Margaret and her husband have been residents at Brandermill Woods for three years, having moved to Richmond to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. She and a friend in the community started the caregivers support group two years ago, when they noticed so many people were caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“We noticed how they didn’t have an outlet, so we started the group,” she said. “We have about 15 members right now, and it’s a place where they can say whatever they want to say and it doesn’t leave the room. It’s helpful to be able to say this is what I’m experiencing, and know that you’re not the only one.”
Margaret is a caregiver for her sister-in-law, who lives next door, but she says it is not the same as what some of the group’s members are experiencing. Many of them are caring for a spouse with dementia or Parkinson’s, which Margaret said was particularly difficult because in addition to the physical tasks of caregiving, they also have to come to terms with the fact that the person they married is no longer there. This is just one of the issues the support group discusses.
For Margaret, the caregiving support group has become a kind of ministry. She loves the sense of community and is grateful for the network of support throughout Brandermill Woods. “I love it here,” she said. “The friendliness and the caring staff are just amazing. Brandermill Woods is the place to be, I think. I’d recommend it to anybody at any time.”
Whether you are caring for a spouse, a parent, or another loved one, it can be a tough job with long hours and frustrations. A support group can help keep you from feeling too isolated and offer strategies for taking care of yourself. Here are a few helpful resources for caregivers:
- The National Institute on Aging
- The Caregiver Action Network
- The National Alliance for Caregiving
- The Alzheimer’s Association
- AARP’s Caregiving Resources
From Brandermill Woods, we want to say thank you to all the caregivers. Thank you for all you are doing to support someone in need!