AIDS is a "family" disease -- partners, spouses, parents, children, friends, and others are inevitably drawn into the physical and emotional roller coaster that comes with HIV and AIDS. In many cases, family and friends of a loved one who is infected become Caregivers. They are the person who keeps track of medications and doctor's appointments, watches the children, and most importantly gives continual emotional support. As women, we know the role of the Caregiver (most of us are caregivers ourselves). We know that caregiving can also bring a lot of stress & anxiety. For family & friends who are caring for someone with HIV/AIDS, there are many complicated emotions that can increase this stress. Not only do they experience feelings such as anger, fear, denial, and depression, but there's an added sense of grief & guilt that can become overwhelming.
One way for Caregivers to ease anxiety and deal with these feelings is to attend a support group. Support groups are offered everywhere on every topic. Why should you nag your Caregiver to get up, go away from you, and talk to a group of strangers about painful things? Because support groups are neutral territory, where people can share and gain information, exchange ideas, discuss "taboo" topics, problem-solve, and (most importantly) gain support by people who are in the same situation.
WomensLink has recognized the importance of "sustaining and aiding" Caregivers and is beginning a support group for friends and family of women who are HIV symptomatic or have AIDS. The group, called "Caring and Sharing," will give your loved ones a chance and a place to deal with feelings of fear and anger; to face the difficulties of changing relationships; and to work through the grieving process. The group is also a place to access resources and share strategies that can ease the task of care giving. This group is limited to those who care for women because women often face very different issues than men do. By gaining support themselves, Caregivers are better able to cope with the difficulty of this disease - and are therefore much more effective at supporting you! If you think your Caregiver(s) may be interested in attending a support group, have them call Stacey at WomensLink at (310) 313-5139.
The group will take place at WomensLink in Culver City every 2nd and 4th Thursday, from 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm. It is being co-facilitated by Debbie Murad, M.S.W. and Stacey Goodman, M.S.W. If this location or time is not convenient, we will refer caregivers to other support groups throughout Los Angeles.