How often do we see someone in a wheelchair or in a hospital or nursing home and not even notice or acknowledge the caregiver close by? On a recent Twitter Chat, the topic of discussion was loneliness among seniors and family caregivers. The conversation lit up with comments from professional as well as family caregivers and their responses were often times heart breaking:
- “Loneliness is like being in fishbowl...you can see out and everybody sees U but nobody hears U”
- “Caregivers can feel lonely when the intensity of caregiving pressure is not well understood, appreciated by others”
- “Nobody understands how you feel.”
- “One day I looked at the mirror & saw a person who was not going to be able to take care of Mom for the distance”
- “Loneliness affected me with weight gain, loss of sleep, and losing the will to fight for me & Mom”
- “Hard to recognize own loneliness, when stop caring for self leads to frustration, depression, isolation as a caregiver.”
Not all caregivers feel the sting of caring for someone as strongly as some of those mentioned above, however, feeling appreciated, understood and valued is essential for all. “Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are,” this quote from Bernice Johnson Reagon, reminds us that we can overcome anything that life has to offer and become a better person. Yet when we are in the midst of difficult challenges, it can often blind us from seeing anything beyond the present moment. This is exactly the time when friends, family and community resources need to kick in to help. Don’t wait to be asked! If you know a caregiver – and we all do – offer a couple of hours of respite, stop by with a bag of groceries or a prepared meal or just stop by to listen! Let them know that yes – they matter!
There are many resources available in the community for caregivers, mmLearn.org is a great one to add to the list. With over 300 FREE online training videos for caregivers of older adults, including topics on caregiver stress, depression, loss and grief, spirituality and much more, you are sure to find a video to meet your caregiving needs. Be sure to fill out our quick and easy survey at the end of each video and let us know what else you would like to see.