Being diagnosed with a chronic illness is an emotional upheaval. Learning to cope with the disease is an adjustment that entails learning about the disease, and finding the support you need through channels that enable you to communicate your feelings of frustration, anger and fear. Talking to friends and family, letting them know how you feel, is one of the stages in adjusting to a crisis situation. Finding a support group for people with arthritis is another important step in the adjustment process, for emotional support and to learn practical coping techniques. In a support group, people with similar problems and experiences share their knowledge and can give support to one another when going through crisis situations and difficulties. Meeting people with the same concerns who have found ways to cope with impairment of mobility and the difficulty in performing daily tasks can help assuage fears.
There are many types of arthritis support groups, and it's important to find a group that has the right approach for you.
Some groups focus more on education and informative meetings; others may concentrate more on emotional support. There may be groups specifically oriented toward older people, or toward people with a specific type of arthritis. The first few meetings may be overwhelming, but as soon as you feel comfortable in your group and with the format of the meetings, it will become a source of information and a channel of open communication to help deal with your illness and the problems that arise over time.
The Arthritis Foundation is a valuable resource. It is a national voluntary health agency that sponsors programs and research, and offers various services for the benefit of people with arthritis. Local chapters of the Foundation offer a variety of programs that include community activities, counseling services, self-help courses, educational programs and support groups.