Pictured above, Christina Neill Bowen, MSW, LICSW, facilitates Seabury Care Management’s monthly caregiver support group
In our country, family caregivers provide $470 billion in unpaid care per year. This includes running simple errands, transportation, housework, hands-on personal care, medical, and nursing tasks. This estimated amount exceeds paid home care and total Medicaid spending, and almost beats sales at the world’s largest company, Wal-Mart ($477 billion). That’s a lot of care! Caregivers provide these acts of generosity, attention, and support in addition to juggling their own work and home responsibilities.
So, how does one survive with these demands and pressures? The answer: a team! A team can consist of paid and unpaid support to carry out daily activities. It can also include people who support you by lending a listening ear or reminding you to take breaks for yourself. Many caregivers report that an essential ingredient in their team includes the support of others on similar journeys.
Seabury Care Management now partners with Sunrise on Connecticut Avenue to offer a caregiver support group the third Wednesday of the month from 2-3 pm. Rita, a support group participant, reflects, “the support groups I have attended have nurtured me in many ways — showing me resources that I needed, reassuring me that I am not alone in all this, and giving me a place to air my feelings both positive and negative.”
The group welcomes anyone caring for a family member or friend. A trained Seabury Care Manager facilitates the group, but participants drive the conversations. Support groups allow for discussion and expression of frustrations, issues, and successes. Sharing often helps individuals feel less isolated in their role as a caregiver. It also allows for opportunities to learn about others’ successes and how they relate to caring for a relative or friend.
 2013 statistic from “Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update Undeniable Progress, but Big Gaps Remain”, AARP Public Policy Institute