Support for Spousal Caregivers

WSA coordinates a network of peer support groups for well spouses and spousal caregivers. Our Support Groups are open to all WSA Supporting Members as a membership benefit (please contact the WSA Office if membership is a financial hardship).

These support groups meet on a monthly basis in person, by Zoom, or by phone.  Join a local support group, or join one of our nationwide support groups, which are listed below.

Click here for our calendar of WSA Support Group meetings.

 

When is the right time to join a WSA support group?

  • You’re starting to realize you’re a well spouse or caregiver. Whatever disease or injury your spouse or partner is facing, and whatever your age or family situation, there will come a point where you realize your life has changed and you identify as a well spouse or caregiver. You may want to join our support groups then. WSA member Julia Child noticed in 1994 when her husband Paul suffered a series of strokes during heart bypass surgery. "When your spouse or partner is diagnosed with a serious chronic illness or disability – You Become a Caregiver. You may experience shock, dismay, fear, anxiety, confusion.  You may deny the diagnosis … or wonder what it means. Either way – you have just become a well spouse."
  • You see signs that you need more support. There are danger signals that say “I need help!” or “I can’t do this anymore!” Sometimes we trudge on under unbearable conditions because of pride or a feeling of hopelessness. Often we simply don’t realize we are taking on too much responsibility until it’s too late. If you notice any of the following sign, it’s time to reach out for support:
    • No matter what you do, it feels like it isn’t enough.
    • Your partner’s condition is worsening despite your best efforts.
    • You feel you’re the only person in the world enduring this.
    • You no longer have time or a place to be alone for even a brief break.
    • Things you used to do occasionally to help out are now part of your daily routine.
    • Your relationships with family and friends are breaking down because of caregiving pressures.
    • Your caregiving duties or emotions are interfering with your work and social life.
    • You realize you’re all alone – and doing it all – because you’ve shut out everyone could help.
    • You refuse to think about your own needs and desires because that feels like a selfish act.
    • Your coping methods have become destructive. You’re overeating/under-eating, using drugs or alcohol to cope, and feeling anger, anxiety or depression. You may take things out on your partner.
    • There are no more happy times with your partner. Instead of loving and caring, you feel exhausted and resentful. You no longer feel good about yourself or take pride in what you’re doing.

Find support with the WSA community

You’re not alone, and our caregiver community can help. Our peer-to-peer support groups meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly in cities and towns across the US. We also have support groups for specialized well spouse populations, including one for younger well spouses (ages 20-50+) and one for former well spouses (due to death, divorce, or separation). Everyone who leads our support groups or attends our meetings is either a current or former well spouse or caregiver.

The support group meetings may meet in a restaurant, church basement, school, or by Zoom, but they all feature a similar sense – they are small communities that are non-judgmental and safe havens, and they are part of our larger WSA community. What you say, and what others say, at each support group meeting, is confidential. You’ll be welcomed no matter your situation, and be able to tell your story - maybe for the first time, maybe for the hundredth time. You’ll find people who understand.

When you arrive at the meeting, the Support Group Leader will ask you to sign in. We ask that you join WSA as a Supporting Member after trying 1-2 meetings. Most meetings are unstructured, to allow each participant time to share their concerns, fears, and experiences. Sometimes meetings may feature a guest speaker or activity. Some groups meet over meals at local restaurants. Meetings are generally 1-2 hours in length – join for as much or as little as you can. You’ll get to know the other group members and help welcome new participants.

Sometimes a support group doesn’t feel like a good fit. If that happens, try a different WSA support group and see if it fits better (even if it’s not in your local area). Sometimes people try a support group meeting but decide it’s not the right time for them to join WSA. WSA will be here when the right time does happen.

Continue attending our support groups, and you’ll find that by taking better care of your needs, you’re taking better care of your partner’s needs too.

Which support group should I join?

Join a local support group if one is located near you, or join one of our national groups:

  • Younger Well Spouses – 2nd Sunday of each month (5:00pm ET) – for well spouses and caregivers in their 20’s to 50’s, we discuss the shifting roles and responsibilities in our partnership and family, dealing with work and financial challenges, advocating for and with your ill spouse, caring for yourself while caring for a partner, recognizing and respecting your limitations as a well spouse, and meeting the “normal” challenges of life in a world that seems to be moving on without you. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in advance for Zoom / phone details.
  • Current Well Spouses - contact for meeting time / details - designed for our members who do not have a local meeting in their area, or cannot attend meetings in person. This group meets one weekend afternoon each month. Contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in advance for call time and details.  
  • Former Well Spouses – 1st Friday of each month (9:00pm ET) - for well spouses and spousal caregivers who have lost their partner due to death, divorce, or separation. Often, our journey includes the "normal" grieving process as well as healing from the pressures of our caregiving experience.  Please join us to discuss any aspects of this difficult process. Contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in advance for call time and details.

 

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