Overcoming Caregiver Isolation and Staying Connected

September 9, 2019

If your role as a caregiver has left you feeling lonely and isolated, these tips can help you find balance again.

Caregiver isolation

Becoming a caregiver for an older family member can be rewarding. Providing one-on-one support to someone who cared for you as a child may allow the two of you to build meaningful memories during what is often a difficult time. The downside of family caregiving, however, is that it can be isolating, especially if the senior has challenges that make it tough for them to leave the house.

How Do Caregivers Become Isolated?

While it usually doesn’t happen overnight, caregivers often find themselves isolated and alone as time goes on. It usually starts gradually. The caregiver gives up a few favorite hobbies or social organizations they just don’t have time for. As the senior loved one’s condition worsens, the family member gives up more and more. They often fail to realize how lonely they’ve become until considerable time has passed.

Here are two more reasons a family caregiver may become isolated:

  • Sense of obligation: Adult children and spouses who are caregivers might feel a strong sense of obligation when it comes to taking care of their family member. This leads them to think no one else can provide the quality of care their loved one needs and deserves. Even if other family members offer to help, they may decline the assistance.
  • Not familiar with senior care: Some family caregivers don’t realize how many senior care options are available in their area. While most know about nursing homes, fewer are familiar with respite care, adult day centers, and assisted living communities. Short-term care, also known as respite care, at an assisted living community can give a weary caregiver an opportunity to take a break for a week or so. It also allows them to test out the community and see if it is a good fit for the senior to move to on a long-term basis.

If you are a family caregiver who is battling loneliness and isolation, we have a few suggestions for helping you reconnect.

3 Ways to Regain Balance When You Are a Caregiver

  1. Investigate senior care options: Most caregivers are surprised to discover how many senior care options are available in their own neighborhood. If you aren’t familiar with them, a great place to start learning more is the local area agency on aging. This nonprofit agency designed to address the needs of older adults often maintains connections with senior living communities and transportation services.
  2. Reconnect with friends and loved ones: Having a strong social network is good for your mental and physical well-being. If you’ve lost touch with your support system while you’ve been busy caregiving, make a list of individuals you want to reconnect with. Call one or two people a day to catch up. Let them know you have missed them and that the responsibilities of caregiving are the reason you’ve been out-of-touch. Try to plan something fun—away from the duties of caregiving—once or twice a month. Discuss quick ways you can stay connected when caregiving duties are at their peak, such as text messaging, social media, and video chat.
  3. Join a support group: Connecting with fellow caregivers who understand the challenges you face can also decrease the loneliness you might be experiencing. There are probably support groups that meet in your local area at libraries, senior centers and assisted living communities. If it is more convenient to connect online, the Family Caregiver Alliance has a host of support groups you can explore.

One final suggestion is to try not to feel guilty if you take time out from caregiving to enjoy your life. It is a fairly common emotion for caregivers to struggle with. “Advice for Overcoming Caregiver Guilt and Finding Peace” has some solid tips for managing it.

Respite Care at Legacy Senior Living

If you would like to learn more about day-stay programs at communities in the southeast, we invite you to call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you. With locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia, there is likely a community near you.