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As a caregiver, how might I become socially isolated?

Lori La Bey
Administration Specialist

This happens typically without warning... One day you just slow down and have time to notice how disconnected to your "previous life" you have become. The slow down often comes at a time we are exhausted and just can't physically or emotionally do another thing. One usually feels overwhelmed and out of control. This is a normal part of the process, so don't be too hard on yourself. If you are like me, you will go down that path of self-abusive talk where I tell myself what an idiot I am. That I'm not smart enough to handle it all and walk on water....

Know two things: 1) You are not alone. 2) You are not supposed to do it all alone!

To prevent losing yourself when caring for another, make sure you try to keep some balance in your life. Here is an easy, quick way to have a check and balance for yourself:

Write a list of things you enjoy: what fills your heart and soul. What gives you energy and makes you feel whole, solid, good and balanced?

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it vertically. In one column write things you can do by yourself. In the other column write what you like to do with at least one other person.

Keep this list close to you. In fact, I recommend you carry it with you! Make it a priority to do at least 2 things on this list every single week. Preferably one thing alone, and one thing with others.

Keep in mind these things don't have to be huge things or costly items like going on vacation. They might be things like going to a movie, writing or journaling, going out to eat, going for a walk, talking on the phone, knitting, reading a book...

The list of possiblities is endless... What is important to you?

Get started. Make your list to continue to live the life you love, while caring for someone else.

Caregivers frequently become isolated from family and friends as they are caring for a loved one. Little time is often left to devote to maintaining friendships and social networks. This social isolation can increase as the disease(s) progresses and caring demands increase. Caregivers who don't have sufficient social support from family and friends often feel isolated and alone in their caregiving, increasing stress.

Family conflicts further exacerbate the isolation and loneliness many caregivers feel. For those living in a rural community, this can be doubly hard, as they are geographically removed from support and services. While social support may not affect the primary stress caused by the disease, it can change the caregiver's response to the illness. Feeling supported by family and friends can improve your psychological responses to stress and boost the caregiver's sense of well-being.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.