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Support Group Training

Thank you for your interest in becoming an Alzheimer’s Association Support Group Facilitator.

ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION SUPPORT GROUPS are regularly scheduled in-person or virtual gatherings of people with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders, their family, friends, or caregivers.

Once potential facilitators fulfill the prerequisites, they are eligible to attend a full-day training program that focuses on group dynamics, how to organize and sustain a successful support group, and Association policies and procedures.


1. At least 3 years’ experience in dementia care (personal or professional)
2. Solid knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
3. Ability to commit at least a year of service to the group
4. Take the “Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: The Basics” online course
5. Understanding of, and willingness to adhere to the Policy Statement on Support Groups (see below)
6. Willingness to undergo a criminal background check
7. If you have no previous experience with support groups: Association staff will arrange for you to observe at least two support group meetings, or to arrange a meeting with an experienced support group facilitator

Policy Statement: Alzheimer’s Association Support Groups

The Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter strongly encourages support group facilitators to hold their groups in community-based and independent living settings (i.e., adult day services, libraries, houses of worship, senior and/or community centers, and independent living settings) rather than in licensed residential care settings (supportive living, assisted living, intermediate and skilled care facilities).

There are several reasons for the Chapter’s stance on this issue:

• More than 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease live in the community rather than in licensed residential care facilities. These data point to a need for support groups in community-based settings.

• Groups based in licensed residential care settings tend to be led by professionals who work for the setting. With staff turnover it is difficult for us to assure consistency and continuity within these groups.

• Groups based in licensed residential care settings may naturally fall into a pattern of discussing internal care issues, which is not the intent of Alzheimer’s Association support groups.

However, the Chapter realizes that in some rural communities, licensed residential care facilities may be the best or only available location for a support group. If, after consulting with the potential facilitator the Chapter determines that a facility-based group is warranted, an exception may be made to allow the group to meet in a licensed residential care facility. However, the lead facilitator may not be an employee of the facility or of any program, service or corporate entity that is associated with the facility. A facility staff person may serve as a co-facilitator, but the Chapter will consider the non-staff facilitator to be the primary contact for the group. This assures continuity of the group if the staff-based facilitator should leave his/her position within the organization.

In addition, the following criteria must be met:

• The group cannot be used to market the facility or any of its programs, or any product or service.
• The group must be open to the public and free of charge.
• All members are made to feel welcome, regardless of age, sex, religion, race, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.
• The group must be identified as an Alzheimer’s Association group in any promotional materials, and group members are made aware of the affiliation with the Alzheimer’s Association in each group meeting.

The Chapter reserves the right to disaffiliate a group for noncompliance with the above conditions.

The Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter very much appreciates the hard work and dedication of licensed care facilities, particularly those specializing in dementia care. The intent of this policy is to provide support group attendees, facilitators, and host sites alike with the most consistent and positive experience possible.

(Policy updated 8/2011)

Application Process

Step 1: Fill out the Volunteer Application: Click here. Give yourself at least 10 minutes to complete the application. Be sure to indicate you are interested in becoming a support group facilitator. Complete the additional questions, and submit your application. We will contact you within 7 days of receiving your application to let you know it has been received, and will advise you of the next steps in the process.

Step 2: Click here to take the free, online course The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease course. This course is a prerequisite for training and should take about one hour of your time.

Once all of your information has been received and we have contacted you, we will send you information regarding training dates and locations.The following information is provided to help you better understand what topics the training covers.

Alzheimer’s Association Support Group Facilitator Training Agenda

Length: Full day (8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

Cost: $40.00 (includes materials and cost of criminal background check; lunch is on your own)

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

• Describe the roles and responsibilities of the facilitator
• Discuss the importance of confidentiality
• List at least three support group models or formats
• Identify at least two strategies for marketing your group
• Demonstrate an understanding of techniques that can be used to deal with challenging participants
• Utilize various group leadership techniques

All participants will receive a support group facilitator manual and a certificate of attendance.

Please note:This training does not include education on Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms. Support group facilitators are expected to have a solid understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

Any questions? Contact Melissa Tucker, mtucker@alz.org.

Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.