What Happens at a Bariatric Support Group Meeting?
Patients who do not come are often successful, too, but we feel that the group provides a boost to morale and energy that can make the difference between good and great results.
We think it’s very important to have support from people who are in the same situation as you, who are up against the same challenge, facing the same obstacles, and driven by the same motivations toward the same goal. The bariatric family members who come to our monthly meetings learn to trust each other, to learn from each other’s experiences, and to look forward to their fellows’ reactions as the goal weight gets closer and closer.
What Happens at These Meetings to Make them so Useful?
Well, first of all, the meetings are tailored to the people attending them. We divide our meetings into two groups: patients who had surgery one year ago or less, and patients who had surgery more than a year ago. Many patients go through similar experiences and meet similar obstacles at roughly the same point after surgery. Also, patients who are approaching or who have reached their goal weight may have different concerns and benefit from different discussions, and we want to make sure everyone is involved with a group whose concerns are relevant to them.
Each meeting is scheduled with a topic of discussion, and an expert – often the Marina del Rey Hospital staff member whose expertise includes the topic at hand – addresses the group. The speaker shares relevant information, questions are asked and answered, and the attendees have a supportive, informative discussion centered around the scheduled topic.
Sometimes, we’ll have an outside expert come in and address the group. When the discussion is on a specialized topic – something in the news, for example – we may have a company representative, a professional from another institution, or someone else share what they know.
At each of our Los Angeles bariatric support group meetings, a new recipe is shared with meeting attendees. Over time, our participants can build up an impressive collection of healthy, delicious dishes that our staffers and their peers share at these meetings.
Finally, as we said earlier, there is the camaraderie and the good feelings you get when you see people you have a lot in common with. These feelings can develop into lasting friendships. Together, you’ve overcome a serious and as challenging health issue, and that can form a strong bond between two friends.
Of course, everything said at a bariatric support group meeting is strictly confidential. We make sure that all our participants are sensitive to the trust their peers are placing in them. It is very, very important to us that the private information shared in the support meetings not leave that room. Our participants respond well to this, we find – they feel free to share in confidence and privacy.