Family caregivers do a lot to take care of aging relatives and many sacrifice lots of personal time to do so. However, as dedicated as family caregivers can be, there’s one issue that is growing more common and has the potential to negatively affect their health. Many caregivers suffer from chronic loneliness, especially those that care for an aging relative full time.
Social Isolation in Family Caregivers
When seniors can no longer live on their own due to illness or injury, many rely on family members to assist them in their day-to-day tasks. Depending on the elderly person’s abilities, family caregivers may assist with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, cleaning house, running errands, meal prep, medical coordination and finances. This is often in addition to the family caregiver’s own duties and responsibilities, such as other family members, a job and their own social lives.
Physical and Mental Effects of Loneliness
It’s easy to see how the best family caregivers are often the loneliest. Studies show that family caregivers with an elderly relative that requires lots of care have the highest risk of a weak immune system, , obesity, alcoholism and eating disorders. Loneliness also affects a persons’ sense of purpose, their self-esteem and even their mental health. Depression and anxiety are common in isolated family caregivers, which can lead to all kinds of problems.
Family Caregivers Can Avoid Loneliness
The good news is that loneliness is completely reversible and quite preventable. In fact, it only takes a little effort to banish loneliness in family caregivers. However, they must be willing to take a proactive approach to make it happen. To avoid the detrimental effects of loneliness in the lives of family caregivers, there are several things they can do.
When family caregivers are tied to their aging relative day in and day out, there’s little time for personal needs. Often, family members feel guilt about leaving their relative in the hands of another, whether it’s a family member or home care assistant. However, stepping away from those responsibilities is a big part of integrating socially.
When people find hobbies that they enjoy, it gives them a sense of purpose and a distraction from everyday life. There are hundreds of hobbies out there, from models, scrapbooking and fishing to dancing, golf and gardening. Hobbies are the ideal way for family caregivers to take some “me time” and focus on things they really love.
Stay Connected to Friends and Family
With all the modern communication technology available, family caregivers don’t have to go too long without talking to friends and family. While face to face interactions are still best, complete with hugs and eye contact, phone calls and video calls can still provide deep conversations, laughter and love.
It’s very easy for family caregivers to put their own needs last, but poor physical and mental health can become obstacles to overcoming loneliness. By getting help from in-home care services, developing interests away from their caregiving duties and strengthening social bonds with friends and family, caregivers can avoid chronic loneliness and the negative effects of this subtle yet serious condition.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Elder Care in Newport Coast, CA, please contact the caring staff at Canaan Home Care today!