What is caregiver loneliness and isolation?
Isolation happens when a person does not spend time with other people enjoying themselves. Caregivers have a lot to do. There are bills to pay, people to call, prescriptions to pick up, and appointments to go to. You may lose track of friendships and stop having a social life because of caregiving duties. This isolation can make you feel lonely, depressed, or sick.
What can I do about my loneliness and isolation?
Staying in contact with people other than the patient is important. These connections can promote happiness, better sleep, and better health.
Here are some tips for avoiding isolation:
- Do a little something for yourself each day. If you can’t take an afternoon off with a friend, schedule a daily phone “date” with someone.
- Ask family members and friends to understand that even though you may be busy, you need and want them to reach out. Ask them to check in with you even if you can’t return their calls right away. Ask them to keep inviting your out even if you often have to say no.
- Invite friends, family and church members over to visit, take a ride, go for a walk, or eat out.
- Join a support group in-person or online.
- Get help with caregiving so you can get out of the house for a little while.
- Don’t feel guilty! Making time for others does not mean you’re short-changing the person you are caring for.
- Take the time to call and catch up with those friends and family with whom you have lost touch.
- Accept invitations to social gatherings.
- If you have a hobby, do it for a little while every day.
- Rent a movie. Go to a play or concert. Go out to lunch. Take a walk.
- Take a class to learn about something that interests you.
When should I talk to my doctor about my loneliness and isolation?
Talk to your doctor if you are:
- Afraid to go out
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Overusing alcohol or other substances
- Experiencing weight loss or gain