How to Reclaim Your Life and Break Out of Isolation
Caregivers can become isolated and less engaged in their hobbies and other activities due to their caregiving commitments. This sort of social isolation can significantly impact mental well-being.
Isolation can occur due to a variety of reasons. For example, there may be a lack of family support with caregiving, you may feel guilty about asking for help, or it may be difficult to take your loved one out in public (i.e fear of unpredictable behaviors).
If you believe you have become isolated, you can reclaim your life, even while maintaining the dedicated support you provide for your loved one!
Tips to Overcome or Prevent Caregiver Isolation
1. Recognize the signs of caregiver social isolation
Do you routinely turn down invitations for social events? Critically evaluate your lifestyle. Do you rarely or never participate in social functions? Remember, recognizing the problem is the first step.
2. Trust the perception of friends and family
Identifying your own isolation is easier said than done, as many caregivers become so wrapped up in caregiving that they cannot recognize the signs. Consider polling your friends or family for honest feedback about whether or not you have become too withdrawn. Try to hear what they say and take action to re-engage if necessary.
3. Ask for caregiving help
Do not be afraid to state your needs to family members and friends. It is absolutely ok to say something along the lines of, “I need to get out of the house for a while this weekend. Can you sit with Dad for the afternoon?” Alternatively, set up a schedule for others to regularly take over a few duties so you can take time to yourself or socialize. Consistent time off will help you feel refreshed and better able to care for your loved one.
4. There is no need to feel guilty about obtaining respite care
When you feel overwhelmed or depressed, it becomes extremely difficult to provide empathetic care for your loved one. If family members or friends can’t help with caregiving, look for alternatives. There are many high-quality organizations that can provide respite care.
Caring for a loved one can be rewarding but time-consuming. For most caregivers, it is reasonable to expect to cut back on social activities a little bit, but stopping completely can increase your risk for isolation (which has many negative effects).
Overall, remember to occasionally take time away from caregiving to ward off social isolation and burnout. It will improve your mental well-being and even help you to be a better caregiver for your loved one.