I’ve heard caregivers say how lonely it is to be a caregiver.
For people not involved with caregiving, or know of a caregiver, they probably don’t understand how a person is lonely in the role of caregiving. After all, you’re with your loved one most all of the time if not all the time.
Caregivers have a challenging role in life. They aren’t just caring for a loved one, they’re also still trying to (hopefully) take care of themselves, or maybe they’re still raising a family and working both ends of the spectrum.
Even people who are not in a caregiving role can be lonely for various reasons. However, for caregivers it’s a different kind of loneliness.
Caregivers often find themselves in a one-sided conversation.
Their loved one is no longer able to converse, and if they do try to speak, their words have become jumbled in ways that make no sense. Even sitting and watching a movie or t.v. show there is no interaction or discussion about what’s going on in the show. Lonely.
How are you supposed to go through each and every day as if you are living alone? Lonely.
Starting the day with helping your loved out of bed, getting them dressed, preparing their breakfast and talking about the beautiful day ahead. Lonely.
Taking your loved one on an outing to get some fresh air and pointing out the beauty of nature and hearing the birds sing. Lonely.
I could go on and on with more examples, but I don’t think you need anymore. If you’re a caregiver you already know.
When I said earlier: ‘For caregivers it’s a different kind of loneliness’, it’s obvious from the examples.
The person you’re caring for cannot perform the normal tasks of someone who is not afflicted with dementia. When you lose that “normalcy” in the family, it becomes a sad and grieving loneliness. Even if you occasionally have visitors it’s still lonely because it’s not about having people visit. It’s about having lost the person you have loved and cherished for so many years. Physically they are there, mentally they are not. That is lonely!
As I was writing this, an old Three Dog Night song came to mind: One Is The Loneliest Number. If you think about the lyrics it’s similar to how a caregiver feels.
Please know, that as a caregiver there are many emotions you will experience, feeling lonely is one of them. Keep surrounding yourself with positive upbeat people. Find humor in as many things as possible; laughter is truly the best medicine.
Take a walk down memory lane with your loved one. Show them pictures of earlier years when they were active and engaging. If you have home videos/movies show those and watch them begin to smile. Play music they used to love and enjoy. I promise you, there will be a trigger in their memory somewhere along the way that will bring them back, even if it’s only for a glimmer of a moment. It’s not only good for them, but it’s monumental for you too!
And keep this thought. . .