Being a full time caregiver can be extremely isolating. Most others around you don’t understand the unique situation you are in and the daily struggles you face. And while the people you talk to are sympathetic, they really can’t relate to what you are going through. Often times, they assume that you shouldn’t feel isolated because you are always with the one you are caring for. This only worsens your sense of guilt for that not being enough.
Feeling alone is an issue felt by most caregivers to some degree. However, a caregiver should not feel ashamed in their journey to find more support.
Finding Support: While people closest to you may not understand what you are dealing with, there are many people out there in similar situations that are feeling the same way. Local support groups and online support forums can help you feel more connected to people in similar situations and offer a feeling of community in the midst of your isolation.
Respite Care: Time away can allow the caregiver an opportunity to focus on their own personal needs without worrying about the safety of the care recipient. Respite services are typically available from home care agencies or local programs, such as you local Area Agency of Aging. Asking friends and family for just a few hours time can make a world of difference, as well. Sometimes just removing yourself from your responsibilities is enough to refresh your sense of purpose.
Maintaining Your Sense of Self: Use whatever time you do have to yourself to participate in activities that help you feel renewed. If you enjoy walks or hikes, yoga, a good movie or dinner at home with the family, all of these are ways to help you maintain a healthy mental balance.
Emotionally, feeling alone can have an enormous impact but there can also be unexpected physical side effects as well. These can include weight gain and increased blood pressure, both of which can contribute to diabetes, stroke or premature death. While the effects may not be as severe in some, the impact on your overall well-being is significant.