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Stroke-Related Dementia (cont.)

Support Groups and Counseling

If you have vascular dementia, you know how difficult this can be. It affects every aspect of your life, including family relationships, work, financial status, social life, and physical and mental health. You feel the frustration of being disabled and dependent. You may feel angry, resentful, or hopeless.

Caregivers have similar feelings of frustration. If you are a caregiver, you may feel unable to cope with the demands of caring for a dependent, difficult relative. Besides the sadness of seeing the effects of your loved one's disease, you may feel overwhelmed, resentful, and angry. These feelings may in turn leave you feeling guilty, ashamed, and anxious. Depression is not uncommon, but it usually gets better with treatment.

Caregivers have different thresholds for tolerating these challenges. For many caregivers, just “venting” or talking about the frustrations of caregiving can be enormously helpful. Others need more, but may feel uneasy about asking for the help they need. One thing is certain, though: if you, as a caregiver, are given no relief, you can burn out, develop your own mental and physical problems, and become unable to care for the person with dementia.

This is why support groups were created. Support groups are groups of people who have lived through the same difficult experiences and want to help themselves and others by sharing coping strategies. Mental health professionals strongly recommend that family caregivers take part in support groups. Support groups serve a number of different purposes for a person living with the extreme stress of being a caregiver for a person with vascular dementia.

  • The group allows the person to express his or her true feelings in an accepting, nonjudgmental atmosphere.
  • The group's shared experiences allow the caregiver to feel less alone and isolated.
  • The group can offer fresh ideas for coping with specific problems.
  • The group can introduce the caregiver to resources that may be able to provide some relief.
  • The group can give the caregiver the strength he or she needs to ask for help.

Support groups meet in person, on the telephone, or on the Internet. To find a support group that works for you, contact the following organizations. You can ask your health care provider, or go on the Internet. If you do not have access to the Internet, go to the public library.

For more information about support groups, contact the following agencies:

  • Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving - (800) 445-8106
  • American Stroke Association - (888) 478-7653
  • National Stroke Association - (800) 787-6537
  • National Alliance for Caregiving
  • Eldercare Locator Service - (800) 677-1116
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/26/2014
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