Here’s a short blog post about the sense of isolation that many
caregivers feel. The author, a psychologist and social worker, offers some suggestions on how to overcome caregiver isolation.
Certainly these tips apply to us all — whether we are caregivers or care recipients.
Isolation: the Pain of the Caregiver’s Soul
by Jamie Huysman, PsyD, LCSW, CAP, CFT
Caregiver SOS Blog
by WellMed Foundation
A recent AARP Magazine survey revealed that more Americans feel lonely today than they did a decade ago, and older Americans are particularly at risk. In fact, 44 million adults over the age of 45 suffer from chronic loneliness. We could factor in that as we grow older it’s “normal” to deal with grief, depression, medical challenges and loss of energy if we do not remain active.
I don’t agree with that. I think that very possibly the common
denominator most suspect in these tragic numbers might be that it’s “caregiving time.”
The number of caregivers in this world is staggering. At last count it was well over 64 million people in our general population. Of course, we do not see this pandemic because so many are hiding in their homes or detached and traumatized–watching the world go by.
A variety of studies has shown that there is a definite link as well between loneliness and diabetes, sleep disorders, compromised immunological system. There is even some speculation that loneliness can play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
So much happens to us when we are lonely. Our self esteem suffers so we eat more unhealthy foods more often. Nutrition can be a factor in shaping our state of mind. Sleep becomes a problem as isolation and depression can keep us up at night; and lack of sleep exacerbates almost all medical conditions.
It follows a logical destructive pattern. You’re lonely so you eat. You gain weight and put yourself at risk for diabetes. You can’t sleep in part because of depression. When you’re caregiving, it’s likely that you’re up and down several times a night to check on or assist your loved one–and your immune system suffers.
So what can you do when you find yourself at this crossroads?
Join a support group today. The impact on us around education and dealing with the loneliness is better than any call you could make right now.
1. Reach out and get in touch with those friends you haven’t
connected with in a while. Get past all that and force yourself to
make those calls to people, places and organizations that make you feel comfortable. Introduce yourself and have a cup of tea with individuals most responsive to you.
2. Some of the best friendships I have seen blossom have evolved when one of the friends was a caregiver.
3. Reach out and help someone. Once a month, do something for someone who’s in a situation more difficult than yours.
Caregiving and loneliness can go hand in hand. Refuse to accept this isolation as your fate. Reclaim some power here. When you think of loneliness as a temporary state, you can do something about it. Make the effort. You are worth it! And the good thing about reaching out to others is that when you do, they will reach back.