If you are caring for a senior loved one, you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. You don’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to make sure each day they are as happy, healthy, and comfortable as possible. Caregiver isolation occurs when caregivers feel as though their role has intruded on living a fulfilled and sociable life for themselves.
Many caregivers face challenges as they continually try to provide the best care for a loved one. When focused on the care of someone else, it is common to put personal needs aside. What caregivers need to remember, though, is that they cannot provide the best care for a loved one without providing for themselves. In the age of social distancing practices, it is more common than ever for everyone to be feeling lonely. Here are some ways to combat caregiver isolation and maintain good spirits.
Staying Connected With Technology
The ability to communicate with others is just a click away thanks to the capabilities that smartphones and computers have to offer. Video calling is a great way to have a loved one enjoy the presence of a visitor.
Getting the Rest of the Family Involved
If you’re in the position of not having family that lives close by, video calling helps the senior and the caregiver feel connected by being able to visibly see facial expressions and facial cues. Caregivers also get the ease of being able to host visitors with very little preparation needed! Get creative with these virtual visits by arranging a storytime with the grandkids or perhaps bingo for a family game night.
Virtual Caregiver Support Groups
Caregivers fall victim to isolation and loneliness oftentimes due to the fact of simply needing others who can help relate to their situation. Support groups are there to bring caregivers together and help them navigate the concerns and questions they face, as well as find the support they need. Many have a harder time being able to leave home and find access to someone who can take over the watch of a senior, so a virtual support group can be the best alternative.
There are many groups out there across the country. They can be a great outlet for a caregiver to vent, seek advice, and branch out to form new friendships. Caregivers can have a harder time getting the same level of understanding from friends and family, but by reaching out to those in the exact position they are, they can feel that they are truly not alone.
Making Time for Oneself
Allowing time for favorite hobbies and non-caregiving tasks will give the caregiver a sense of individualism. Isolation can stem from the loss of one’s self and purpose. It’s as if they are so wrapped up in the around the clock care of a loved one, that they don’t see themselves as the person they used to be.
Making a dedicated schedule of care, and fitting alone time into that list is the first step. For instance, when the senior is napping or sitting down to watch a movie, that is the time a caregiver can shift the focus to themselves for a bit.
The activities you incorporate for alone time should be beneficial to maintaining mental stability. Tai chi, yoga, reading, knitting, and meditation are great ways to set aside positive alone time. Getting comfortable with these calming activities will allow a caregiver to feel as though they have control over their own wellbeing.
Healthy Mind, Healthy Caregiving
Caregiver isolation can lead to caregiver burnout. This is the physical and mental exhaustion associated with caregiving. When it gets to this stage, it becomes a more serious matter. The caregiver will feel a sense of hopelessness and complete isolation, which leads to anxiety and depression. When the caregiver themselves is suffering, the one they care for may end up falling victim as well. A caregiver cannot provide a complete sense of concentration towards a loved one if they are not in an optimal mental and physical state.
It’s common to feel overwhelmed at times. Caregiving is a 24/7 job, so how can one know the difference between feeling a normal level of stress, and when it’s gone too far? The answer is in what the caregiver is showing externally.
These are some questions a caregiver to ask themselves:
How many meals did I eat today? Am I drinking enough water each day?
Am I able to fall asleep and stay asleep? Do I still feel fatigued even after a decent amount of hours of sleep?
Have I taken the time for exercise or some sort of physical activity lately?
When was the last time I called a friend or family member?
Simple mini check-ups on personal wellbeing can keep a caregiver reminded to have their back as well as they do their loved one’s. When push comes to shove, and caregiving becomes too much to handle, there are options for long-term care. Senior living communities such as Kensington Park give families the ability to rest assured their loved one is in expert and caring hands.
At Kensington Park, we differentiate ourselves from other communities. We hold a promise to love and care for your family as we do our very own. With a top-notch dining menu and dedicated team to fit the needs of various conditions and levels of memory loss, health and happiness are at the forefront of care.