How do I Choose the Best Alzheimer's Support Group?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Doctors may be able to recommend the best alzheimer's support group for patients.
Doctors may be able to recommend the best alzheimer's support group for patients.

If you, or someone you love, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, you are probably dealing with a great deal of emotional and practical upheaval. To help with adjusting to a diagnosis, managing symptoms, or making decisions about long-term or hospice care, you may consider joining an Alzheimer's support group. Finding the best Alzheimer's support group depends on the stage of the illness, logistics such as group location and schedule, as well as the group's orientation and resources.

Most Alzheimer's support organizations focus on increasing public awareness of the disease.
Most Alzheimer's support organizations focus on increasing public awareness of the disease.

Alzheimer's is disorder caused by abnormalities in the brain. The condition is usually slow to progress, and is a major cause of dementia. Over time, the patient's short-term memory usually becomes worse, and the patient may become confused about the identity of even close family members. The patient may also lose his ability to speak, suffer impaired judgment, and become unable to complete daily living tasks such as dressing, bathing, and preparing meals. Because the needs of an Alzhemier's patient can be so great, and the disease itself can be so frightening, support from others can be crucial to successfully managing the needs of both patients and caregivers.

A good way to begin your search for an Alzheimer's support group is by asking the doctor who provided the diagnosis for recommendations. A social worker at your hospital may also be able to provide a list of local groups. Other options include contacting Alzheimer's research organizations and charities for suggestions.

Once you get a list of groups, call or email the group's leader to find out more about the group. Some groups in your area may specialize in working with the newly diagnosed and their caregivers, which can be a huge help immediately after getting a diagnosis. Other Alzheimer's support groups may operate in a hospital setting, which can have several advantages.

If the group meets in the hospital where the patient is receiving care, staff members associated with the group may have regular contact with the patient's doctor. From a logistical standpoint, the hospital-based group can also be more convenient as it can reduce the amount of time that a caregiver must spend driving herself and the patient to appointments and meetings.

If a recommended Alzheimer's support group meets in a house of worship, be sure to ask if the group has a religious component. While a religiously-oriented group can provide a great deal of comfort to members of that tradition, participation may not be appropriate for non-members. You should also ask if the group is led by a health-care professional or is led by a layperson. Both types of groups can be extremely helpful, but if you feel that you need ready access to professional advice, a professional-led group may be your best option.

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    • Doctors may be able to recommend the best alzheimer's support group for patients.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      Doctors may be able to recommend the best alzheimer's support group for patients.
    • Most Alzheimer's support organizations focus on increasing public awareness of the disease.
      By: Robert Kneschke
      Most Alzheimer's support organizations focus on increasing public awareness of the disease.