Stress on the Caregiving System: Loneliness and Isolation

Loneliness and isolation are often unwelcome stressors for caregivers as they devote themselves to the care of their loved ones. The toll of these emotions can have detrimental effects on their overall wellbeing. Recognizing and addressing this issue is crucial. We believe that if they are able to make some changes to their routine, caregivers can benefit themselves. 
Prioritizing their own well-being is essential for navigating the challenges of caregiving effectively. Remember, caregivers deserve support and care too.
As our loved ones age and fall ill, many of us take on the responsibility of caring for them. This can be a challenging experience emotionally and physically. Our first blog in our Stress Series focused on finances and how many people struggle to handle the costs associated with care. This article, the first of four on Emotional Stress, will explore the common feelings of loneliness and isolation that many caregivers face.  

Case Study 

Equinoxe LifeCare has offered reliable, personalized care for over 25 years; and with this extensive experience, we have witnessed the many stressors associated with care on families.
Mr. A was caring for his 80-year-old wife, who was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease. Without any extra help, he felt compelled to stay at home to care for Mrs. A. He declined social invitations and only left the house for essential activities, like buying groceries and medical appointments. He also declined his brother’s offer to step in and give him some personal time.
As Mrs A’s condition declined, Mr. A was feeling more depressed and anxious and was not able to properly care for his wife as he wished.  

Why Do Caregivers Experience Loneliness?  

Studies have shown that 40-70% of family caregivers report significant symptoms of depression, with caregivers living in remote or rural areas being at a higher risk.  
When caregivers withdraw from their normal routines and social life, many become disconnected and isolated. They have shifted their focus to their loved one, but often have not realized the adverse effects on themselves.  
When they cease some of their social activities and routines, they can experience exhaustion and fatigue. Many people experience personal health issues, mood changes, sleep disturbances and often neglect personal care. In the next article we will discuss some ideas to help caregivers alleviate some of their suffering.  
In conclusion, caregivers facing emotional stress, loneliness, and isolation require our urgent attention and support. Prioritizing their own well-being is essential for providing quality care. The next article will explore practical strategies to alleviate their suffering. Let’s foster compassion and understanding to create a sustainable caregiving system for our aging population.