Chances are, you’re either a caregiver or know someone who is. Here are some helpful tips for caregivers, to take care of themselves.
A caregiver is someone who takes primary responsibility for a person who cannot look after themselves. Over 75% of full-time caregivers within the USA are family members. If you are or know a caregiver, then you already appreciate how selfless caregivers are. Unfortunately many caregivers eventually feel isolated while continuously looking after their loved one. Many caregivers eventually give up their careers and social life to be able to solely focus on caring for their loved one.
The New York Times reported how isolation can add extra stress to caregivers, even beyond the tremendous responsibility of looking after someone at all times. According to the New York Times article, many caregivers face unique challenges. The article describes Betsey Brairton’s situation. She’s age 48 and a full-time caregiver for her mother, who is 79. Betsey began caring for her mother after her mother became almost immobile following a stroke as well as being diagnosed with spinal stenosis and arthritis. She admits that she’s can’t commit to plans with friends. Instead, she worries that her mother may be having a bad day. As a result, Betsey only leave the house for a maximum of two hours without her mother. Although Betsey Brairton adores her ill mother, she’s afraid that the isolation she is faced will leave her with limited social skills.
Unfortunately, Betsey is not the only person who feels isolated as a caregiver. This feeling of isolation clearly impacts mental health and social skills of caregivers. Research also shows that loneliness can lead to health conditions such as heart disease and strokes. Furthermore, Dutch researchers have confirmed that elderly people whom are isolated are more likely to develop dementia.
Tips for Caregiver to prevent feelings of loneliness
If you’re a caregiver, we recommend following these tips to prevent loneliness. There are resources to help caregivers connect with other caregivers and support groups, such as Area Agencies on Aging. This site offers a great way to discover free local programs that allow you to meet people in similar positions and meet in person to discuss any issues. Local caregiver support programs are on the website of the Piedmont Triad Regional Coundil. You also could consider joining caregiver groups on social media. That allows you to discuss things that are on your mind if you are unable to leave the house. Campaigns such as Dementia Friendly America are being developed to raise awareness of dementia and the impact caregiving can have on an individual’s life. That’s an example of what could be a great cause to get involved with.
If you know someone who is a caregiver, you also can help to offer them support. Visit the caregiver or take time to call or text them. That will make them know they’ve not been forgotten by friends. Find ways to help if your friend is unable to leave their home, such as helping them to order take-out. Don’t be afraid to offer to help with small jobs to help out the caregiver. An act that may be small to you may make a caregiver’s day a lot easier!