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Care for the Caregiver: Bethany to hold support group for dementia caregivers Monday

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The Bulloch County Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group just celebrated its one-year anniversary in June 2024. The support group offers resources and help for caregivers who are taking care of loved ones with dementia. This past year, they had 26 caregivers come through the group.

The group's next meeting will take place from 4-5pm on Monday, July 8, 2024, at the Bethany Community Commons Building (353 Gesmon Neville Lane, Statesboro, GA 30458). Learn more about the group below and make plans to join if it fits your needs!

About the Group

This group primarily serves Bulloch County; however, due to the lack of in-person support groups elsewhere, caregivers from Claxton, Hinesville, Jesup, and surrounding areas have joined on occasion. The closest other support group in the area is near Augusta. The Alzheimer's Association has estimated that about 1,100 people in Bulloch County have some form of dementia.

“We have so many caregivers who need help, resources and support,” says Haley McNure, co-moderator/facilitator for the group, who has a personal connection to the disease. “I helped take care of my grandmother for 10 years who was diagnosed with vascular dementia and worked in Memory Care at The Lodge at Bethany for 5 years.”

The goal for the support group is that caregivers have a set time for themselves, get a break from their loved ones with dementia, be able to talk about their struggles, and spend time with people who are in similar circumstances and who are going through the same thing.

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What to Expect

A typical meeting has between 4-7 individuals.

“Our core group of 6 have become ‘regulars.’ We exchange ideas and encourage each other as our loved ones continue to progress through the disease,” said Brenda Robinson, co-moderator.

Robinson shared that she was motivated to help McNure start this group for personal reasons, as well, since her father-in-law has Alzheimer's disease and her mother-in-law needed this type of support system.

The meeting typically begins with introductions and sharing what brought each caregiver there. The co-moderators encourage the caregivers with pertinent information about services in our area and offer a safe place to talk openly and honestly about what's going on in their lives.

It is very casual, and most people join in on the struggles that they're having and share what has happened since the last meeting. Some offer suggestions; other participants just need someone to listen and be heard. Guest representatives from Ogeechee Area Hospice visited in June, and the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office will be on the calendar at the next meeting.

McNure and Robinson encourage the guests to sit and chat in an informal Q&A type session. McNure says the goal is to learn and feel you are not alone in this caregiver journey, to meet and spend time with others who are facing similar challenges, and to maybe learn something from other people's experiences.

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The Bethany Community Commons Building, where the support group is held | Photo Courtesy of Bethany

Caregivers, you are not alone!

One of the caregivers in the group shared, “I am grateful for this group. Listening to others talk about their experiences in caring for their loved one with dementia has helped me feel like my family is not alone. They have given us tools we didn't have before, a comprehensive list of resources and services in our area, and suggestions on how best to respond to the unfamiliar behavior and situation caused by Alzheimer's. It is incredibly difficult to stay positive. The toll on the caretaker is high. So sharing and connecting with others is invaluable.”

McNure offered, “One of my favorite quotes about caregivers is by Rosalynn Carter: 'There are only four kinds of people in the world -- those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.' We are grateful that we are able to offer an opportunity for support to our caregivers."

Robinson added her thanks to the support group members for their faithfulness and becoming part of her life. "You bring joy and encouragement through my own caregiving journey. I look forward to every Monday support session.”

If you are a caregiver in need of respite and support, please join the next meeting on Monday, July 8 at Bethany. They meet every 2nd Monday of the month, and there is NO CHARGE for attending.

For more information, contact Haley McNure at 912-225-7204 or [email protected].