By Angela Stringfellow on May 14, 2019 10:50:20 AM
Caregiving for a friend or family member is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to a loved one, but it’s not without its pitfalls. Studies show that up to 60-percent of family caregivers suffer from depression; this is nearly six times the national average for depression. It might be a striking figure for the uninitiated, but even casual caregivers know how difficult it can be to prioritize self-care while looking after a sick person.
From caregiver role strain to caregiver fatigue, anxiety, isolation, and more, caregivers may face a number of challenges throughout their caregiving journey. If you’re a primary caregiver who has had to cut back on the hours you work – or even give up employment entirely – financial pressures also contribute to stress.
Fortunately, there are plenty of experts and caregiving peers alike who are willing to lend advice and share crucial resources for coping with these and many other challenges of caregiving. We suggest taking part in caregiving support groups, which exist all over the great state of Pennsylvania. To help you get a better sense of what is available, we’ve found 50 caregiver support groups, which focus on a range of different specialties, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, cancer, and more. We’ve even included caregiver online forums for those who aren’t able to attend in-person support groups or prefer the ability to seek daily support from the comfort of home.
Family Caregiver Support Groups
- Abington-Jefferson Health Family Caregiver's Support Group
Third Tuesday of Each Month, 4:00-6:00 pm
Abington-Jefferson Health hosts its Family Caregiver’s Support Group, a monthly meeting that is designed for family caregivers of the elderly and handicapped. This free support group is an ongoing one and meets at Schwenckfeld Manor in Lansdale.
- Abramson Center for Jewish Life Caregiver Support Groups
Various Dates and Times
The Abramson Center for Jewish Life offers three ongoing caregiver support groups, at its Senior Care, Home Care, and Medical Adult Day Services facilities. Though the support groups are open to all types of caregivers, those touched by memory loss will get special support as every group is facilitated by an Alzheimer’s Association-certified leader. For more information on the times and dates of these groups, visit the Abramson Center for Jewish Life website.
- AHC Willow Grove – Caregiver's Support Group
Fourth Monday of Each Month, 1 pm
Willow Grove, PA
The AHC-Willow Grove Caregiver’s Support Group is made by possible by Abington-Jefferson Health. This group is designed for caregivers providing support to a family member or friend who is suffering from a chronic illness. It is held monthly at AHC-Willow Grove’s Wildwood Building, Suite 162.
- Butler County Area Agency on Aging Caregiver Support Group
Second and Fourth Wednesday of Each Month, Contact for Time
Twice a month, the Butler County Area Agency on Aging holds its Aging Caregiver Support Group, a meeting that is open to caregivers of elderly family or friends. The group meets at the Butler County Area Agency on Aging building in Suite 101.
Can You Let It Go? is a monthly group organized by Doylestown Health, a healthcare group located in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. The support meeting tackles a variety of issues on the topic of anger and bereavement, which have been tailor-made for caregivers and grieving caregivers. The event is free, but attendees must register on Eventbrite at least 24 before it begins.
- Caregiver Chat Group - Broome West Senior Center
Regular Meetings, Contact for Scheduling Details
The ongoing Caregiver Chat Group is a drop-in support group that welcomes caregivers of any and all ages. It is held at the Broome West Senior Center and focuses on the common challenges felt by many family caregivers. For updated scheduling inquires, call Caregiver Services at the Broome County Office for Aging.
Not-for-profit, faith-based Luthercare conducts a monthly morning caregiver support group that caters to those residing in Lebanon and Lancaster counties. All types of caregivers are welcome to join, but the group is designed for caregivers of seniors. The support group covers a myriad of topics, including stress and anger management, dementia education, depression support, and more.
Led by Licensed Social Worker and counselor with CARES of the Lutheran Settlement House, Sarina Issenberg, this monthly meetup is suitable for all types of caregivers, from occasional to live-in. This Philadelphia-based support group meets monthly – and sometimes even more often – so be sure to check its Meetup page for updates.
- Caregiving Aging Mastery Programs
12-Week Program Available throughout the Year
The Caregiving Aging Mastery Programs is a National Council on Aging (NCOA) signature 12-week course that provides caregivers of all ages and ability levels the tools they need to best take care of themselves, as well as their elderly loved ones. The support group-education program hybrid is held at Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.
The Plum Community Center of Plum, Pennsylvania holds a monthly support group called The Caring Circle. This meeting is dedicated to helping family caregivers who are feeling “overwhelmed, overworked, and stressed” by their current arrangements. Though reservations for this group are not required, organizers appreciate a notification from new attendees prior to the meeting date.
- Chester County Hospital Caring for the Caregiver Support Group
First Tuesday of Every Month, 6:00-7:30 pm
West Chester, PA
Oncology social worker, Kelly Chambers, MSSW, LSW, leads the Caring for the Caregiver Support Group at Wester Chester’s Chester County Hospital. Each month, the expert facilitator discusses and helps solve the many challenges faced by the family caregiver. While this group is geared towards caregivers looking after a loved one with cancer, it is open to others, as well.
- Christ United Methodist Church Primetime Caregiver Support Group
Third Wednesday of Each Month, 7:00 pm
Bethel Park, PA
Christ United Methodist Church in the Pittsburgh suburb of Bethel Park holds the Primetime Caregiver Support Group, a monthly meeting that is held in conjunction with the church’s Adult Day Care Center Program. This support group is open to congregation members, as well as all members of the public who are currently caring for a frail or elderly loved one.
- First Baptist Church of Kennett Square Caregiver Support Group
Second and Fourth Tuesdays of Each Month, 7:00-8:00 pm
Kennett Square, PA
The Christian faith-based Caregiver Support Group at the First Baptist Church of Kennett Square is designed for caregivers of all backgrounds who are looking for community, support, and advice from their caregiving peers. Each bimonthly meeting introduces a new topic and includes time for prayer and fellowship.
- JFCS Pittsburgh Monthly Caregiver Support Group
Third Thursday of Each Month, 1:30-3:00 pm
Jewish Family and Community Services (JCFS) Pittsburgh has its Monthly Caregiver Support Group at its Squirrel Hill location. The meeting is a peer support group that is designed for caregivers looking after older adults. The monthly gathering is free and open to everyone, but organizers do ask that new members call prior to attending their first meeting.
- Somerset Alliance Church Caregiver Support Group
Second Thursday of Each Month, 7:00-9:00 pm
Somerset Alliance Church of Southwestern Pennsylvania invites caregivers caring for elderly parents, sick spouses or children, and others to its Caregiver Support Group. The two-hour monthly meeting is peer-based and is held in the church’s board room.
Bethlehem-based St. Luke’s University Health Network hosts its Caregiver Support Group, a monthly meeting for caregivers of older adults. The group is facilitated by a leader for structure and support and is open to new members – no registration required. The Caregiver Support Group meets in the back conference room of the St. Luke’s North building.
- Westmoreland County Caregiver Support Group Meetings
Second Wednesday of Each Month, 1:00-3:00 pm
The Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging hosts its monthly Caregiver Support Meetings at the McKenna Center in Greensburg. Each meeting is sharing-based, but some include talks from expert guest speakers. The group is free and open to all caregivers. RSVPs are appreciated.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Support Groups
- Adams County Office for Aging's Caregiver Support Group
Third Wednesday of Each Month, 3:00-4:30 pm
The Adams County Office for Aging (ACOFA) holds its monthly Caregiver Support Group at the ACOFA office in Gettysburg. The regular meeting is for caregivers who are willing to share support and practical tips within a safe, judgement-free community setting. Though this group is open to all caregivers of elderly loved ones, it is specifically geared towards those grappling with memory loss.
- Alzheimer's Association's Caregivers Support Group - Reading
Fourth Tuesday of Every Month, 11:00 am
Across the country, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Caregiver Support groups are conducted. Facilitators use the expert curriculum to educate and enlighten those who are providing care to loved ones diagnosed with the disease. This Reading-area meeting is held at the St. Joseph Regional Health Network’s Exeter Ridge Health Complex, Suite 101 at Shelbourne Square.
- Alzheimer's Association Support Group - Williamsport
First Tuesday of Each Month, 1:00-2:00 pm
Another Alzheimer’s Association Support Group takes place in Williamsport. This group is made possible by the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter, Northeast Region and is hosted by the Williamsport Home in its administrative conference room. The monthly, hour-long meeting is open to all caregivers taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other memory loss.
- Alzheimer's/Dementia Support Group Meeting
First Wednesday of Each Month, 7:00 pm
This Lancaster-based Alzheimer’s/Dementia Support Group Meeting is a community education meeting tailor-made for spouses and other loved ones looking after someone who is suffering from the disease. Locations may change for this meeting often, so be sure to contact facilitators for more information before attending.
- Alzheimer's Caregivers Support Group
Fourth Monday of Each Month, 6:00 pm
The Country Meadows Retirement Community of Wyomissing hosts its monthly Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group. This ongoing meeting is open to family of residents as well as the public. An RSVP is required.
- Alzheimer's Foundation of America Care Connection
Second Thursday of Each Month, 1:00-2:00 pm
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) Care Connection hosts a phone conference/webinar meeting that changes its Alzheimer’s-related topics monthly. All webinars are completely free to access. To open past meetings, check out the Webinar Archives.
Country Meadows Retirement Homes host several Alzheimer’s Support Groups for patients and caregivers living throughout the state of Pennsylvania. In addition to its Allenton meeting, Country Meadows also hosts monthly groups in Bethlehem, Easton, Frederick, Hershey, Lancaster, Mechanicsburg, Bridgeville, and York. Please note that an RSVP is required to attend the meetings. For more information on specific meeting places and times, visit the Country Meadows website.
- Alzheimer's Support Group - Spousal Support Group
Every Other Monday, 1:30 pm
In addition to its caregiver and caregivers/patient series, Country Meadows also holds the Alzheimer’s Spousal Support Group at the Bethlehem location. This meeting is open to spouses of Alzheimer’s patients. An RSVP is required before attending.
- Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Caregiver Support Group
First Wednesday of Each Month, 7:00 pm
Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in conjunction with the Cumberland County Office of Aging, holds the monthly Caregiver Support Group. This Carlisle-based meeting is an ongoing memory care group geared towards children, spouses, and other loved ones. The monthly meeting takes place at the Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
- Dementia Caregivers
Each Friday, 9:00-10:00 am
Melissa Gartenberg Livney, PsyD facilitates Dementia Caregivers, a support group that uses a cognitive framework to help members deal with the emotional strain associated with providing care to a loved one with memory loss. This meeting is held every Friday at Rosemont Plaza, Suite 15-G and costs between $30-40 to attend.
- Dementia Caregiver's Support Group
First Saturday of Each Month, 10:30 am-12:00 pm
Karen Rosenberger, PsyD hosts the weekly Dementia Caregiver’s Support Group in Souderton. This is an “emotionally-focused” meeting designed specifically for loved ones caring for someone with memory loss. Each weekly session costs between $20-40 to attend.
- Doylestown Alzheimer's Disease Family Caregiver Support Group
Bristol House Memory Care hosts its weekly Doylestown Alzheimer’s Disease Family Caregiver Support Group. The meeting is sponsored by Doylestown Hospital and is facilitated specifically for family caregivers who are caring for those with cognitive impairment.
- Inner Light Academy Caregiver Support Group
Last Thursday of Each Month, 6:30 pm
New Oxford, PA
The memory care providers and experts of the Inner Light Academy host a Caregiver Support Group at Wellbrook Adult Day at Cross Key Village. For more information or to register for this support group, call (717) 624-5474.
Other Caregiver Support and Specialty Groups
UPMC Hillman Cancer Center holds its monthly Bladder Cancer Support Group, in conjunction with the hospital’s Department of Urology. There, both caregivers and survivors connect, share information, and support one another. Please note that, while this group is free, pre-registration is required.
Magee Rehabilitation holds the Brain Injury Family CARE Group, a support group designed for survivors, family members, and loved ones of brain injury patients. Attendees have a chance to connect, and every session is facilitated by a clinical neuropsychologist. Individual mentoring can be arranged whenever necessary.
Bucks: For Care Partners is a bimonthly support group for family caregivers of multiple sclerosis patients. It is held at St. Mary’s Life Center in Trevose.
- Main Line Health Cancer Caregiver Support Group
Second Wednesday of Each Month, 5:30-7:00 pm
Paoli Hospital staff facilitate the Maine Line Health Cancer Caregiver Support Group, a monthly meeting that is designed for cancer patients’ caregivers. The group is open to everyone, regardless of where the patient is receiving treatment. Please note that RSVPs must be placed by 2:00 pm the day of the group meeting.
The Multiple Myeloma Support Group is a monthly meeting for adult patients suffering from multiple myeloma, as well as their caregiver loved ones. The group meets at the UPMC Our Clubhouse in Greensburg. All attendees must pre-register prior to the event – no drop-ins allowed.
- National Alliance for Mental Illness PA Family and Caregiver Support Group
Various Monthly Meeting Times
Various Locations Across Montgomery County, PA
These specialized family support groups are made for caregivers and loved ones of those living with mental illnesses. The confidential groups are led by National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)-trained facilitators. Monthly groups meet in Lansdale, Lower Providence, Abington/Glenside, and Pottstown. For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Care Partnership website.
Regional Cancer Center (RCC) hosts its Support Group Caregivers Lunch and Learn, a bimonthly meeting that brings together primary caregivers of cancer patients. Attendees gain support and insight from peers, as well as expert RCC staff. This event is held at the Regional Cancer Center in Erie.
Magee Rehabilitation’s SCI Family Peer Support Group is geared towards family member caregivers and loved ones of spinal cord injury patients. Special resources, as well as family-matching can be arranged for caregivers grappling with a recent injury. Meetings are held in room 571.
Peter Tripodi, LCSW facilitates the Scranton ALS Resource Group, a monthly support group sponsored by the ALS Association-Greater Philadelphia Chapter. The group meets at the University of Scranton in room 200 of Leahy Hall. Organizers ask that first-time attendees RSVP.
Magee Rehabilitation hosts the Stroke Family CARE Group, a support group designed for stroke patients and their family caregivers. The group is facilitated by designated Stroke Peer Mentors and Family Peer Mentors who offer resources and valuable tips to attendees. Individual mentoring can be arranged for those who need it.
Online/Virtual Support Groups
AARP’s online community includes the Caregiving Forum, a place where caretaking family members and friends share stories, tips, and more. In addition to peer support, AARP also hosts the Expert Series which allow for valuable Q&A’s within the forum.
The AgingCare Caregiver Forum is a place where caregivers connect over a variety of topics, including legal issues, loss, self-care, disability support, and much more. Discussions are easily accessible and conveniently-arranged by ‘Recent Activity,’ ‘Most Popular,’ and ‘Needs Advice.’
The Alzheimer’s Association hosts the ALZ Connected Caregivers Forum, a place where caregivers can ask for help on the message boards or seek education in the ‘solutions’ category. There are several new posts a day on the issues that affect memory loss caretakers most, such as power of attorney, insurance advice, and hiring in-home help.
CancerCare hosts a long list of online caregiver support groups. Currently, this list includes groups for caregivers of spouses/partners, adult children, young adults, and young adult spouses/partners. Also included is a post-treatment group, lung and pancreatic cancer groups, and more.
The Living Room is an online support group of the Cancer Support Community for patients and caregivers of those currently dealing with cancer. The Living Room hosts a number of specialized forums, including those geared towards teens with cancer, pancreatic cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
The American Red Cross hosts its Military and Veteran Caregiver Network Online Peer Support Community, an online forum that consists of helpful chats, discussion groups, and much more. All forums are peer-moderated and are monitored to be anonymous, safe spaces for all caregivers to share and seek advice.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center hosts myCancerConnection, an online support community that is organized to offer free, one-on-one support for patients, caregivers, and survivors. Those seeking help will be matched with a volunteer to help them through their journey.
Reddit hosts the subreddit, r/Caregiver Support. The group boasts more than 2,000 active members regularly posing important caregiver-related questions on education, support, finances, legal options, and more.
Smart Patients Caregiver Community, in partnership with Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), hosts its online community for part-time and full-time caregivers. Members can learn from other patients within the communities, research the latest treatments, share stories, and even find clinical trials.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hosts its Caregiver Support Line Monthly Presentations, virtual presentations which feature a wide range of topics, including boundary-building, LGBT-geared curriculum, and communication exercises. Each presentation is available in audio, transcript, and handout form.
51. Caregiver Nation
Caregiver Nation is an online Facebook Community sponsored by Seniorlink. The community hosts 3,000+ family caregivers from across the globe and brings them together in a private community setting. The group is a safe space for family caregivers to vent, share, learn and form friendships from the comfort of their own homes.