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How Caregivers Can Combat Social Isolation

This is Part 2 in a series about caregiving and social isolation. Click here for Part 1 with information about caregivers and social isolation.

Results from the research study, Caregiving in the U.S. 2020, show that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, family caregivers often felt socially isolated and lonely.

Here are ideas to help caregivers decrease their social isolation going forward as our society emerges from the pandemic.

While technology is an imperfect solution, using computers, tablets and cell phones is not going away. It would behoove caregivers to become digitally literate, or at least not be reluctant to try technology. The increase in telehealth alone demands a degree of digital literacy. Why? An engaging world awaits on the internet. Here are some ways to make connections and broaden your horizons via the World Wide Web.

  • Check out fascinating webcams set up around the world.  Did you want to get a look at the Northern Lights, the International Space Station, or Abbey Road? There are webcam feeds for all of these that you can check on a regular basis. Or use Google Earth to armchair travel back to your hometown or favorite vacation spots far away. These give you connections to the wider world, even if you are not there in person.
  • Enroll in ZAP, AFC’s Zoom Activities Program.  Enjoy comprehensive, brain-engaging activities and connect with others online from the comfort of your home. Classes are given Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm and include art, music, chair exercise, armchair travel, relaxation/meditation and more! Click here for more information.

Join a support group for family caregivers. Support groups help you combat both physical and emotional isolation. Some members become friends outside the group. They may be meeting virtually now, but eventually they will resume in person again. Call 714-840-3296 for details about our weekly caregiver support group.

Head outdoors for a drive, visit or walk with a friend or neighbor. Take advantage of the healing power of Nature. An AARP Foundation survey from 2018 showed getting to know one’s neighbors can help reduce loneliness. Sixty-one percent of midlife and older adults who have never spoken to a neighbor reported feeling lonely, compared with 33% who had conversations with them.

Talk to someone once a day, other than your care recipient. Have a few trusted people to call whenever you need to vent or be distracted from your daily routine.

Seek professional help. Caregiving can lead to burn out and you may feel like your life is spinning out of control. Mental health care comes in different formats that can work for any budget. Click here for information about counseling AFC offers..

Get some laughs! Don’t you always feel better after a good belly laugh? Laughter can improve your immune system, relieve pain, and improve your mood. You can find laughter in everyday life or by watching “I love Lucy” reruns on TV, comedians on YouTube or comedy shows on Netflix.

As the pandemic winds down, there will be an increase in safe social interactions for caregivers. But they may still tend to self-isolate and feel lonely. So, if you know a caregiver, please continue to reach out and support them in whatever ways you can.

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

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