Being a caregiver is sometimes a lonely job. You may feel confined, restricted, shut away from the activities, the people, and the mental stimulation that you enjoy. As the companion for someone with unique challenges and needs, you may not see friends and other family members for long periods of time; and as a result, your own mental health may suffer.
It’s important to recognize the dangers of isolation and to take steps to provide yourself with an outlet and some relief, so you can continue to live a full, satisfied, and happy life. Discover how to overcome isolation when you are a caregiver.
Find a Support Group
Sometimes, just talking about the caregiving experience can be a relief. You need some people around you who understand exactly what you’re going through, who have been there too or are currently living the same experience.
Check online to find a local support group for caregivers, and try to attend meetings in person if those are offered. If not, connecting with other caregivers in an online support group can be just as helpful.
Reconnect with Relatives and Friends
When you first began your role as a caregiver, you may have been so overwhelmed with the new reality that you let other relationships slip. Now that you’ve gotten used to the tasks of caregiving, try to reestablish some of those relationships.
If you’ve drifted away from certain friends or relatives and you want to reconnect, try reaching out with a text, a phone call, or an email. You may be able to find time to meet for coffee or lunch. If you can’t leave the house due to caregiving responsibilities, see if the person would be willing to come over for a visit. Skype, video calls, and social media provide ways for you to stay in touch with loved ones even if they’re far away or unavailable to meet in person.
Develop a Hobby
Hobbies can be expensive, and some caregivers are struggling with a lack of funds as well as a feeling of isolation. However, there are a number of hobbies you can pursue that don’t involve a lot of upfront cost.
Writing can be an outlet for a variety of emotions and experiences. You may find it therapeutic to journal, jot down some poetry, or begin crafting a novel. Whether you do it just for fun or treat it as a more serious creative effort, writing is an excellent way to keep your mind active and engaged during long, isolated hours in the home. You can also find writers’ groups, both local and online, to provide extra social interaction. If you’d rather read than write, seek out a local book club.
Crafting, knitting, or sewing are other hands-on hobbies that provide tangible results without too much up-front cost. You can find supplies at thrift stores or dollar stores, and if you practice enough, you may even be able to sell some of your work on websites like Etsy to make a bit of extra income. You may even find local art fairs where you can enjoy some social interaction and sell a few items. The best part is, you can easily set aside your crafting work to return to caregiving duties, and then pick it up again later when you have more time.
Painting, model-building, wood-carving, jewelry-making, music, reading, calligraphy, origami, photography, cooking, crocheting, and leather-crafting are all hobbies you can do from home. Experiment with a hobby you enjoy as a way to give yourself a mental outlet and connect with others who share the same interest.
Attend Local Events
If you have a bit of disposable income, and you’re able to get away from the house now and then, try to find some interesting events to attend. Does your city have a community theater? You can probably find fun plays, musicals, and other performances to enjoy at a reasonable cost, and you just might meet a delightful new friend.
Many cities and towns have local spots where you can enjoy live music, good food, and a few laughs with friends, old or new. Karaoke nights, poetry slams, and local band performances are all fun ways to interact with others and meet new people.
If you or the person you care for has a dog, you can find ways to become part of your local pet owners’ community. Parks, boardwalks, doggie play zones, obedience classes, and pet competitions all provide outlets for connection and activity.
Participate in a Faith Community
Some caregivers find comfort in being part of a religious community. You can participate in services, interfaith gatherings, and church potlucks or barbecues. Just being around people who share your faith or worldview may give you the emotional boost you need to continue caregiving throughout the rest of the week.
Did you know that exercising regularly boosts your mood and energy levels? When you’re weary from caregiving, you may not feel like exercising—but trust the research, because once you begin a regular exercise regimen, you’ll actually gain more energy instead of feeling wiped out. Your mood may improve, and you may notice that you’re sleeping better. Plus, your heart and lungs will benefit.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring! In fact, you can make it interactive or entertaining for you and the person you’re caring for. Put on some peppy music or a dance video and dance around the room! Play an engaging exercise video or try a YouTube yoga channel. If there’s a treadmill or exercise bike available in the home, watch a favorite TV show while running or riding. Even something as simple as going up and down the steps a few extra times or taking a walk can be healthy, releasing tension and relieving a little of the sadness or lethargy you might feel as a caregiver.
Take Time to Celebrate You
As a caregiver, it’s easy to make it all about the person you’re caring for. Selfless, kind-hearted caregivers are rock stars in our book, and we believe that it’s healthy to celebrate yourself occasionally for the difficult, important work you’re doing.
When family or friends praise you, accept those compliments. Celebrate daily moments of success. Identify milestones in your caregiving experience and assign a celebratory activity or personal reward to those achievements. You deserve recognition for the hard work you’re doing every day.
Find Reliable Respite Care
For many of the out-of-the-house activities, you may need to find someone to take over your duties for a couple of hours so you can take a break and get some much-needed socialization. Finding respite care can be difficult for many at-home caregivers, due to cost, availability, and other concerns. However, it’s important to remember that prioritizing your own mental health and happiness is well worth a bit of extra investment.
If you need a break as a caregiver, it’s okay to hire someone to take over the responsibilities for a while. At Community Home Health Care we have an experienced, caring staff of highly trained in-home caregivers. Our registered nurses and home health aides are happy to provide medical assistance, along with kind-hearted personal care. Explore our website and fill out the online form to receive more information about our services, or call (845) 425-6555 and we’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.