You know how bad senior loneliness is. As we at Quality Care Companions have talked about in the past, it’s not just a state or a feeling for our beloved seniors — senior loneliness is considered an actual disease. You know how much your parent or aunt or uncle or neighbor needs extra help and care, and you don’t want to abandon them. You’re here because you’ve likely picked up much (if not all) of the responsibilities for them, giving it your all to ensure they’re cared for.

This is extremely admirable, and you should be proud of your initiative and help. However, there are some components to caregiving that often go unaddressed, primarily because all the focus is put on the person in need of care. We’re going to talk about caregiver loneliness, and while we’re not able to directly tell you if you’re struggling with this, hopefully you can find some helpful insights and tools to move forward.

Your loved one deserves the best in care, but so do you. Contact Quality Care Companions for exceptional home care services in Eden Prairie.

You’ve started to feel isolated.

When’s the last time you did something social? When’s the last time you caught up with a friend? As much as social engagements can sometimes feel like just another obligation on our list of todos, they’re actually very important to our health. People function better when they have close connections, and those connections require ongoing care and attention.

If you keep cancelling plans because of your caregiver responsibilities, if you feel like you’re out of the loop with all your loved ones, this is a sign that you might be struggling with caregiver loneliness — and that you might want to consider relying on home care to help out. Getting your life back will make you feel better, and you’ll be in a better place to help and interact with your loved one in need of help.

Your routines have changed dramatically.

It’s one thing if you now no longer are able to go to the gym on Mondays after work. It’s another thing entirely if your current routine, while taking care of your loved one, looks drastically different than when they didn’t need extra support. Has your old self become unrecognizable? Do you not remember what it’s like to not have this responsibility? If you weren’t caring for your loved one, would you do things differently?

Even if you don’t feel lonely, per se, having a dramatically changed lifestyle and routine are signs of caregiver loneliness. They can have negative implications, and it’s imperative for you to still have time for yourself. There’s no need to sacrifice your entire life — especially when you have home care options like Quality Care Companions available.

You’re feeling more negative and/or depressed.

There’s a horrible cycle that can sometimes happen for caregivers when they’re taking care of their elderly parents. They take on all the responsibility of caregiving, feel down or perhaps resentful that they have this responsibility, then feel guilty for not wanting to take care of their parents. So, they keep trudging on and the vicious mental cycle starts all over again.

Take it from our licensed caregivers: you have every right to feel down while taking care of your loved ones. There’s nothing wrong with you for having caregiver loneliness. Caring for our loved ones can often be more mentally taxing than caring for strangers, because it’s that much more personal and intimate.

Get past the thoughts of guilt, resentment, and shame — get your life back by relying on a professional to provide the care that your loved one needs. Instead of having to worry about meal prep or personal hygiene for your parent or aunt/uncle, you can instead focus on connecting with them. These will be memories that you’ll cherish so much more. As always, the quality of time you spend with your loved one matters much more so than the quantity.

You’re not sleeping as much.

Did you know that insomnia and loneliness can be linked? Whether you’re sleeping less because your responsibilities have increased or because you’re stressed, changes in sleep patterns can be a sign of caregiver loneliness. It’s more than OK (in fact, it’s necessary) to advocate for your sleep schedule. It’s true what they say about self-care — you need to give yourself care first before you can give care to others.

You’ve been getting sick more frequently.

It might sound crazy, but as Lifeline reported, “Studies show that people who are chronically lonely have significantly higher incidence of heart disease, are more likely to have metastatic cancer, and are at an increased risk of stroke neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. We’re also more likely to have compromised autoimmune systems, lower antiviral response and experience inflammation.”

What all of this means is that when we’re stressed or lonely, we aren’t as healthy, and we’re less likely to be able to recover from illnesses. Similar studies have also shown that social isolation and loneliness can even affect premature death — and the risk is equal or higher to premature death caused by obesity.

If you think you might have caregiver loneliness, Quality Care Companions is here to help your family out. If you don’t think you have caregiver loneliness, but either want to prevent it or are just looking for added support, we are still here! We’re Eden Prairie’s top choice for home care, offering services such as companion services, 24-hour assistance, and general housekeeping. Get started with Quality Care Companions today to keep caregiver loneliness at bay.