Caregiver Loneliness

Are you lonely?

 

Caregiver, are you lonely?  Keep reading for some simple tips to combat this growing epidemic.

It has been said that one of the greatest tools of the enemy is isolation. Most single people, parents of high-strung children, caregivers, people who suffer from a chronic illness, and individuals who have experienced severe trauma are lonely.  The challenges they deal with are faced in isolation.

Societal implications on loneliness:

Our society does not help this dilemma due to the nucleus of the family dispersing.  The “American Dream” tells young people to move out of their parent’s house and get a home of their own, away from their family.  As families disband, the support system does as well.

The impetus for this writing came from an interview I heard recently.  I was listening to a preacher talk about the prayer line he had established, in conjunction with his ministerial giving phone line.  He imagined people would call in to contribute to feeding the poor and homeless.  However, he said that 80% of the calls received were from people saying they were lonely and had no one to pray with.

Does that describe you?  You might have children running around the house all day long and a husband who comes home exhausted each night, yet you still have no one to talk with.

Does your world seem dark and lonely?

Yes, we live in a dark world (John3:19).  But, Jesus said, “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

Today’s tip is something fun to bring light into your dark time of caregiving.  Eleven years ago, I was working as the social services coordinator for a local non-profit.  In an effort to cheer the downtrodden caregivers, I created stress boxes for them.

At that time, there were almost 20 caregivers and resources were tight.  First, I solicited the help of a retail business who donated the boxes.  Next, the spouses of the caregivers decorated the boxes.  Thirdly, I glued a fact sheet about the warning signs of stress and some ideas of how to handle stress, on the inside lid of each box.  Finally, the boxes were filled with motivational sayings.

The boxes were distributed to the caregivers, with the admonition that their boxes could be used in three different ways:

  1. Take out a slip of paper and read it each day for encouragement.
  2. Throw away the slips of paper and use the empty box as a complaint box.
  3. In the event of an extraordinarily bad day, take any frustrations out on the box and not on the person being cared for.

Caregiver frustrations:

Number three was purely humorous, to get the group laughing, but I would not have been offended if someone had taken me up on it.  I have heard many caregivers speak about needing to kick a chair or punch a wall.  Some overwhelmed mothers of stubborn and rebellious children have even admitted to cutting themselves.  (We never want anyone to be in such a depressive state that they harm themselves, so please seek medical attention if necessary.)

After making and distributing the boxes, I did not think much more about them.  Then, earlier this year, I was given one by a sweet friend.  My friend put fun quotes inside, which propelled me to make little quote boxes as gifts too.

To make your own, or to give one to a friend, follow these simple instructions-

Step 1- Find a container you like.

Stress box

 

Step 2- Look up your favorite scriptures or quotes.  You can hand write them or type them.  To simplify this idea, just purchase a quote book and cut out your favorites.

image

 

Step 3- Fold the small pieces of paper.

Caregiver Quotes
Caregiver Quotes

 

Step 4- Assemble.

Completed Stress Boxes
Completed Stress Boxes

 

fight darkness with light:

If you are going through dark times and challenges now, I encourage you to fight that darkness by being the light.  You can be the light by doing something like this little craft for your friends.

By encouraging others, you will bring joy to yourself.  These stress boxes are fun gifts to make for friends who are in the hospital, going through trials, or having a birthday.

Also, these are easy crafts to make for gifts.  You could make several copies of the same quotes and assemble all the boxes at one time.  If you have young children, or if you are caring for someone who is older and wants to help, solicit their services for the cutting and folding.

Giving to people lonelier than yourself:

Additionally, you might consider stopping by a nursing home.  Ask the staff which residents will not have any visitors.  Making a quick visit, to the room of an individual who has no one, reaches out to the loneliest of lonely.

If you spend time with someone who is lonelier than yourself, you will actually help decrease your own loneliness.  Click here for a story about a woman who used her struggles to encourage others.

Likewise, you can brighten your own world by encouraging yourself, just like King David encouraged himself during difficulties.  (Click here for more tips on encouraging yourself.)

Hints for the home-bound:

There are times we cannot leave our homes.  In those instances, continue to uplift yourself and pray for world events around you.  Since you have access to a computer, you could find online prayer groups and communities- you already found one by looking at this site.

Caregiver, times may be dark and lonely now, but Light is coming (John 12:46).  Light is coming!

To read part two of this series, click here.  Part three may be accessed by clicking here.

What about you?

Please comment below about your favorite suggestions to bring light into darkness.  Or, leave us your favorite caregiver quotes and poems.

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7 thoughts on “Caregiver Loneliness”

  1. For me God is EVERYTHING and over the years, I have come to understand I have fear when I
    Forget EVERYTHING is All Right. Right this minute all my needs are more than met. Knowing this I can still want some things in my life to be different. I didn’t know when God’s will took me to 4 years of study in the field of aging that I would use all that knowledge to be my Husband’s caregiver. Some days I am able to lift my hands in praise and with open hands receive all God has for me. Other days I wrap my arms around my self and cry. God doesn’t stop loving me when I feel afraid.

    1. This is so amazing and beautiful! Thank you for your heartfelt comment. You articulated what so many people feel- the ups and downs of caregiving. I also love your acronym for FEAR!! Hopefully many other readers will take that to heart as well. Thank you for taking time to share something that will uplift others. Your testimony is one which will help many people.

  2. The cause of loneliness among caregivers is because of withdrawal of past habits and lifestyle. It’s hard to see your friends go on their daily activities while you fulfill your caregiving duties. This feeling becomes a wall, which separates the caregiver from social interaction. There are several ways to address this issue and help caregivers overcome depression and they are the following:

    1. Respite Care
    2. Ask help from friends and family
    3. Look for group support
    4. Get Treatment

    I’ve written about this caregiving issue just recently and you can find more details here: https://thepurplejacket.com/2017/01/17/loneliness-and-depression-in-caregiving/. I hope your readers will find this helpful.

    1. Samantha, Thank you so much for bringing us back these ideas! I love how you listed these four concisely. If someone is unfamiliar with the term “respite”, please see a brief definition I wrote at the bottom of our Christmas Gifts post: http://www.burdenfreecaregiving.com/2016/12/04/list-gift-suggestions-caregiver/

      Please, caregivers, take the advice offered by Samantha above. Ask for help and get treatment. If you are over 65 and looking for a support group or respite, go to your browser and type in the following words: Area Agency for Aging. After that, type in the name of your county (or town). You will be directed to your local Area Agency for Aging. Do not feel like you are alone or helpless.

      The author of the book “Diary of a Mad Caregiver” has an additional list of resources, to view Rebecca’s resource list, click this link: http://rebeccagracecollins.com/resources/
      This blog has a very condensed list of internet resources for caregivers that may be found at the end of the following: http://www.burdenfreecaregiving.com/2016/12/13/fun-favorite-fabulous-gifts-caregivers/

      1. Loneliness is very hard, but I find that if I keep singing songs about Jesus or the Blood of Jesus, this is a great help. I also bake cookies or a sheet cake, half it and take half to a friend, shut-in or someone having a hard time. When I get home, I feel so much better and not lonely anymore. I also just go for a walk in the neighborhood and talk to people I see, this is a great help and very healthy too. I love this blog. It is such a great help to me and many others. It is easy to read and find information we need. Thanks so much for creating this blog for us. We love you.

        1. I love all these practical ideas- singing, walking, and reaching out to someone lonelier than yourself. You truly are never alone. Thanks for sharing.

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