When caregiving for an elderly parent, sometimes you almost don’t realize how it’s changed your life until things get hard. When you have increased demands on your time, you may drop out of other activities, which leads your friends to back away or maybe feel they are unwanted. This is especially true with caregivers whose parent has dementia, because you can’t fully enjoy the companionship of your parent, either. Studies have shown that a person’s brain is altered when they are isolated from society.
- Loneliness can lessen your willpower
- It can lead to overeating, smoking or drinking too much
- Your stress hormone is higher
- The ability to persevere is depleted
What you can do About Loneliness
The best things in life are all about balance. This is how you should look at your caregiving responsibility. The above things happening to you will make you a pretty poor caregiver; how can you care for your parent if you aren’t taking care of yourself? Here are some things you can do now that will make a positive effect:
- Expand your real and virtual social circles
- Consider joining a support group for caregiving
- Have at least one outside activity, like a hobby you used to do
- Speak up and let your family know you’re overwhelmed
- Hire senior care services a few days a week for trained help
- Reaching out to old friends and taking the initiative to invite them to spend time with you should be a priority
- Look at online forums for people dealing with similar caregiving experiences as you to find a friend who can understand and advise you
- Let your friends and family help with the caregiving and cleaning
It’s sometimes too easy to isolate yourself when caregiving, and that isn’t good for everybody in the family, especially for you. With the selflessness and demands of caring for your elderly loved one, you have to have plenty of time to recharge your emotional batteries and live your own life, too.
Just because you love your parent and want to get their needs met, doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself, or all by yourself. Professional care is a good idea for all seniors, and you don’t have to feel guilty about handing over some of the work. As long as your mother or father is being properly taken care of, that’s really all that matters, right? If the situations were reversed, don’t you think you’d want your parent to spend time for themselves as well as caring for you? Remember that while comforting your parent is important, you have other people who need you, too. Your spouse, children, and other relatives and friends can help you feel less isolated and loved in return.