Caregiving for a senior loved one can be rewarding role. Providing daily assistance to someone who took care of you as a child can give you an opportunity to reconnect and build memories. The downside is it can also be lonely, especially if the older adult can’t be left alone or has mobility challenges that make it tough for them to leave the house. Family caregivers often end up isolated and alone. Many times, they don’t even realize it is happening. Withdrawal from friends and social activities happens gradually.
Why Do Caregivers Become Isolated?
Adult children or spouses may believe no one can care for their loved one as well as they do. Some caregivers are simply unaware of local resources that provide backup support and relief.
Recognizing the problem is the first step toward solving it. Overcome or avoid caregiver isolation with these helpful tips.
In addition to physical presence, humans need relationships that provide mutual value and trust. Studies show that spending time with loved ones regularly can lead to a longer, healthier life.
Invite friends over for a game night, start a book club, or grab dinner. Scheduling time to call or meet with friends regularly helps maintain friendships and builds a stronger support network.
Join a Support Group.
Connecting with supportive people can make you feel less alone. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic. Support groups also provide a place to vent your frustrations.
Many healthcare plans offer support groups for caregivers. However, if you are unable to arrange for a substitute caregiver or travel for support face-to-face, online support groups are available.
Ask for Help.
Ask a family member or a friend to bring over a hot meal, pick up the dry cleaning, or sit in for you for a bit. If you don’t have family or friends nearby, ask your neighbors or members of your support group.
People want to help, so accept it when it is offered. If there are funds available, you could hire someone to provide in-home services. This can give you a much-needed break.
Get Out There.
Take responsibility for your isolation and feelings of loneliness and make an effort to build up your social network. Join a club, attend local events, volunteer, get involved at church, meet your neighbors, join a gym, sign up for a class, dine out with others, or invite them to dinner at your place. Pets are also wonderful companions and can provide comfort and support during times of stress, ill health, or isolation.
Get Professional Help.
If feelings of isolation are acute or you’re experiencing chronic loneliness, feelings of hopelessness, or are overcome with anxiety, it’s time for professional attention.
Call a support line or your physician for a referral to a mental health expert to work with you to find ways to make these feelings abate.
When you are struggling, it might feel impossible to find balance between caregiving and maintaining a life of your own. Maintaining relationships is of utmost importance. Even if you can’t leave the house, stay in touch with friends via social media, email, and video chat platforms. Support groups can provide invaluable knowledge, or they might just listen and provide emotional support, but at the very least, you will know that you are not alone.