Caring for an aging loved one requires you to sacrifice a lot of your own time. To make room in an already tight schedule to help a senior loved one with daily tasks, caregivers often move socializing to the bottom of their priority list.
Skipping a group meeting, cancelling a lunch date or passing on a cookout might seem like the best way to reduce the stress of trying to fit too much into the day. It can, however, have the opposite effect.
According to The Caregivers Handbook, being separated from others while devoting extra time and energy to a senior loved one causes caregivers to feel lonely, depressed and stressed. This isolation can also lead to resentment that strains relationships and makes caregiving a negative experience.
Maintaining strong connections with friends and family is crucial to your wellbeing. Make time for socializing in your daily routine. Like exercise, regular social activities are necessary for good health.
Tips for Getting Help When You Are a Caregiver
Taking a break from caregiving is usually possible only if you have someone to take over your aging parent’s care while you slip away. Here are a few tips for Michigan caregivers to consider:
- Enlist family and friends to cover for you while you attend a social event. Don’t be afraid to ask or to accept a previous offer of help.
- Hire an in-home caregiver. Aides can help with bathing and dressing, meal preparation, medications and simply offer companionship to your loved one.
- Consider respite care in an assisted living community. This is perfect for a weekend getaway, a visit with out-of-town relatives, or for a longer vacation.
A few other ideas to allow you to fit socializing into your time-strapped schedule, feel connected to the outside world and improve your relationship with your senior loved one include:
- Try to schedule at least one social engagement a week. This might be having dinner with a friend, going to a movie or attending a sporting event.
- Make a social phone call every day. Touching base with a supportive friend or loved one is a small gesture that relieves a large amount of stress.
- Plan for date nights. Spouses are often the first people neglected when their partner is a caregiver. Even a simple walk in the park together can help you feel less isolated and more in touch with the most important person in your life.
- Take field trips. If your senior loved one is able, take him or her with you to a craft show, festival, church meeting or barbeque. Connecting with others is good for them, too!
- Extend an invitation. Encourage friends and loved ones to visit you and the older adult in your care.
- Connect with other caregivers in Michigan. Join a support group to meet regularly with others who share similar experiences. These are also great resources to learn how to better care for aging loved ones. Contact the Michigan Area Office on Aging to locate support groups in your county.
- Join online support groups. The World Wide Web is home to many caregiver communities where you can talk with others who are facing similar challenges. Some discussion groups are general, like the AARP Caregiver Community. Others are ailment specific, like the Alzheimer’s Association Connected Caregiver Forum .
Staying connected can help caregivers remain healthy, happy and positive about their role in their senior loved one’s life.
If you are interested in learning more about respite care for your senior loved one, please call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you.