Caregiver support group resumes for friends, family of people with dementia
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After several years on hiatus, a support group for friends and family of people with dementia will resume on Thursday, Feb. 13, and will continue to be held on the second Thursday of each month.
“The beauty I find in support groups is in being in a comfortable, confidential setting where people can really understand what you are going through,” said facilitator Barbara Bronner.
Bronner, a retired licensed clinical social worker, currently facilitates a group on the third Thursday of every month for spouses and partners of people with dementia.
In order to provide support and more resources to more people, Bronner is now expanding the group to people who may not necessarily be a spouse or 24/7 caregiver. It is open to anyone who gives care to a friend or family member with dementia, whether on a daily basis, during visits or from afar.
Both groups are sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association.
What: Caregiver Support Group for friends, family and caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia
When: 3 to 4:30 p.m. second Thursday of every month
Where: Rollingstone Respite House, 480 Rollingstone Drive
The only rule, said Bronner, is that everything said in the group is confidential. It is vital people feel comfortable, she said, and know they can talk about anything without it leaving the room.
From 2018 to 2025, it is estimated the number of people in Colorado with Alzheimer’s disease who are age 65 and older will increase by nearly 30%, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
In the United States, over 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, and it is estimated that as many as 16 million will have the disease in 2050.
Dementia — including Alzheimer’s disease — is “a very different kind of illness,” Bronner said.
“When someone is suffering from a dementing illness, it is much harder to work as a team,” she said. “It makes being a caregiver a tremendously challenging job. The more we can understand and share strategies on how to react — the better the person who has the illness and the caregiver will feel.”
And the support group being a safe place to share is very important so that people can express negative emotions and share challenging experiences — including those that can be incredibly frustrating, Bronner said.
“At some point in the illness, the caregiver has to find a balance between caring for their loved one and taking care of their self, so that they can continue to be a caregiver,” Bronner said.
Sharing strategies is one of the most important parts of the support group, she explained.
“There are so many things caregivers can learn from each other,” she added. “And having the support from someone who really gets it — that’s the difference.”
On Feb. 11, Bronner and Joan Lucas will teach a class on the basics of understanding dementia and Alzheimer’s at 3:30 p.m. at the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Both caregiver support groups are held at 3 p.m. at Rollingstone Respite House, 480 Rollingstone Drive in Steamboat Springs. Contact Bronner at 970-879-8942 for more information about the class or the support groups.
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