Every day, there are millions of caregivers working hard to take care of the ones they love. Many of these caregivers share similar experiences and struggles and are in search of support and understanding. The sense of community that can be cultivated through caregiver support groups is so important. Many caregivers report that having the support of fellow caregivers is one of their most valuable assets.a They provide the opportunity to be yourself, share your experiences, and find valuable and helpful resources.
Fred Testa a resident at Miramont Pointe, a senior living community in Clackamas, Oregon, understood the value a caregivers support group could offer. Read about his story.
It’s no surprise that Fred took the initiative to start his own support group. His whole life has been centered around helping others. Fred’s father left his family when he was young, and being the oldest of four children, he took it upon himself to support his younger siblings through everything. “I’ve worked since I was 13,” says Fred. This desire to help others also translated into a career in public service. “I was even the mayor of my town for a period of time.”
Fred has been living at Miramont Pointe with his wife for five years. His wife has Multiple Sclerosis, and like a lot of people, Fred was struggling to find resources and decided to take action.
Creating a Community of Support
After looking for his own support groups, Fred realized that there are a lot of people who don’t know how to find resources to care with their loved ones. “I tried to put together a support group, and people were reluctant to share their problems with other people. What I did is I changed the name to ‘Education Group.’ We have a group of about eight people who meet regularly. It has been getting along really well. And people are starting to open up more.”
He says he has even taken it upon himself to go to classes at the County to learn more about helping people, like finding where people are at in their journey, and what their problems are.
“I have to be an advocate for people,” he says. “I was elected President of the Resident Council, and I want to be a voice for the people who are not a voice for themselves. I enjoy working with the new people here, about how to obtain the services they need. You might say it’s a gift. I don’t know what it is, but I’m here to help people.”