Family Support Groups Frequently Asked Questions

Due to COVID-19, most ALZNJ Support Groups are meeting virtually. We also have some support groups that are meeting in-person. Our in-person support groups are following current COVID-19 guidelines.

Do I need to register in advance for a support group?

Currently, we ask that participants register for both in-person and virtual groups. You will only need to register one time – after you are registered you will receive meeting reminders by email. To register for a support group, please complete our Support Group Inquiry Form or call our Helpline at (888) 280-6055.

How do I join a virtual support group?

Our virtual support groups are on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, depending on the group. To join a group, all you need to do is click the meeting link in your email and follow the on-screen instructions. One of our staff members can guide you through the process of using Zoom or Microsoft Teams, if you have not used the platforms before. We encourage you to try a group even if you’re unsure how the format works.  Our facilitators and staff will make every effort to make it as easy as possible for you.

 I do not have a computer.  Can I still join a virtual group?

Yes.  You can join by video with a smart phone or tablet, or you can use any phone to call in and join.

 Do I have to talk in the support group, or can I just listen?

The goal of ALZNJ support groups is to provide a safe and comfortable space for caregivers to connect.  We know that comfort is key and therefore do not force anyone to speak if they are not ready.  However, to get the most out of the group, we do encourage members to share thoughts and experiences when they feel comfortable.

 My schedule is not consistent, and I do not know if I can make every meeting.  Can I still join a group? Yes. It is ideal to attend a group regularly to gain the most from it, but we know that is not always possible given the amount of time and uncertainty that comes with caring for someone with dementia.

What if I do not like the ALZNJ support group I join?

We encourage new members to attend at least 2-3 meetings before deciding whether the group is right for you.  Sometimes it can take attending a few meetings to feel comfortable and to get to know the group dynamics.  However, if you know the group is not right for you, you can always call our Helpline to find out about other available groups.

 I am worried that hearing other people in the group speak about their caregiving issues will make me sad. Is this likely to happen?

It is common for caregivers to be concerned about this when joining a support group for the first time.  However, caregivers often end up feeling relief, connection, and less alone when they listen to other members.  Many new members are surprised to find out that sharing their experiences and hearing others can be very up-lifting.  If you try a group and feel it did not provide the support you need, please call our Helpline (888-280-6055) to discuss further.

 Should I have my loved one with dementia join the group with me since I will be participating from home?

ALZNJ support groups are for caregivers only.  We ask that only caregivers attend in order to create an environment that allows all members to be comfortable and free to discuss matters related to their caregiver experience. If you need information on groups that may be appropriate for your loved on, please call the Helpline (888-280-6055).

 How do caregivers benefit from participating in a group?

In so many ways!  Here are real quotes from caregivers expressing how they feel about their support group:

  • “The support group was great… I don’t feel so alone.”
  • “I wouldn’t have been able to make the difficult decisions about my mom’s care without this group.”
  • “This group has been an anchor for me.”

How long are ALZNJ support groups?

The length of each group is 1 to 2 hours, depending on the group.

Who facilitates ALZNJ support groups?

ALZNJ support group facilitators are experienced and trained staff or volunteers.  All ALZNJ support group facilitators go through a screening and application process.  Once onboarded, facilitators are required to attend a training provided by ALZNJ and participate in ongoing professional development.  ALZNJ staff and volunteers work closely together to ensure caregivers are given the most up-to-date and pertinent resources, information, and support.

How often do ALZNJ support groups meet?

ALZNJ support groups meet monthly, twice a month, or biweekly, depending on the group.

How many people are in each ALZNJ support group?

The number of caregivers in a group varies.  On average, 6-8 caregivers attend each group.

Is there any cost for joining an ALZNJ support group?

No.  All ALZNJ support groups are free.

My loved one lives in a nursing home.  Am I still eligible to join a support group?

Yes. You can attend a group that best meets your needs.  We do have a specific group for caregivers who have a loved one in a residential facility, but you can also attend any of the other groups that fit your schedule.

I can’t leave my loved one for more than an hour. Can I still join a group?

Yes.  You just need to inform the facilitator that you may need to leave early if the group runs more than an hour.

Do you have any Spanish-speaking groups?

Yes, we have 2 Spanish-speaking groups per month.  Please let us know if you are interested in attending one or both of these groups.

Revised January 10, 2022