Caregiving Vacation

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July 6, 2021: Taking a Vacation from Caregiving

Have you ever had the thought: “Oh, I could never take a vacation from caring for Mom or Dad; they just need me too much…”? Or how about this one: “Nobody knows all the things I do for Dad, and they could never do everything to his strict requirements!”? Or maybe your narrative sounds something like this: “I don’t need time off; I’m strong enough, healthy enough, have enough time and energy, to do everything for Aunt Sue or Uncle Joe. I don’t need a break; I’ll be fine.”

Most family caregivers take their responsibility very seriously about caring for a loved one. In fact, they are so committed to their role that they completely buy into several myths about caregiving.

Myth #1: There’s nobody else who knows everything I know or can do what I do.

If you believe this, you risk feeling trapped for as long as you are the primary caregiver. This can lead to anger, resentment, depression, and a host of other negative emotions that can take a toll on you physically as well as mentally and spiritually. The truth is that nobody needs to know everything you know, as long as you can communicate the essentials in order to set yourself and your substitute for success.

Myth #2: There are no resources that can truly help me; I’m all alone in the responsibility of caring for Mom or Dad.

In fact, very few family caregivers are truly alone and without resources, but many don’t know what those resources are, or where to go to find them.

Your local church might be a great place to start, and from there you could check with your local Area Agency on Aging or your Department of Social Services. Home Health or Home Care agencies or your primary care physician’s office could also offer helpful information.

Myth #3: If I need time away, I’m letting my loved ones down because the family depends on me to take care of Mom or Dad.

Truthfully, you are letting everybody down if you DON’T take care of yourself so you can continue caring for others. Down time, or vacation, is restorative in nature. It gives your body and your brain time to reset, rejuvenate, and restore so you are ready to return to caregiving when your break comes to an end.

Myth #4: If I step away and entrust the care to strangers, Mom and Dad will be taken advantage of and might even be harmed.

This is the hardest myth to overcome, because there could be some truth in it. Honestly, you have to do your homework and make appropriate inquiries if you will be employing people you don’t know to provide care while you are away. Hiring someone who has been recommended by close friends who have known and used their services is certainly smarter than hiring someone who answers an ad in the paper or online, but your best bet would be to inquire with a home care agency that offers background checks, training, around-the-clock responsiveness and coverage for callouts. A reputable agency is also insured against employee theft and provides accountabilities and supervision to give you the peace of mind that you are leaving your loved ones in good hands while you take some time off.

This summer ask yourself how much you truly need a break and be honest with yourself in your answer. Start making plans for setting up coverage and getting away. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your family.

Betsy and I hope you will join us this week at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about planning your next vacation from caregiving.

Offering the Freedom to Forget

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This week our family will celebrate our nation’s birth. Like many others, we will gather with friends and family to exercise our freedom to live, work, play, and party as we may choose, so long as we stay within the boundaries of social norms and the laws of our community. We will revel in time away from work and its endless tasks. We will sleep late, eat lazy foods, and step out of our normal routines. We will remember the sacrifices of others, my parents included, given in service to our country to protect its freedoms. We will reflect on the courage of our forefathers who risked everything when they signed a piece of paper that severed England’s hold over us and declared war on a king who thought he owned us!

Family Caregivers who are alone in their caring duties don’t often have the freedom to step out of their responsibilities, to take a holiday from their job as a caregiver. If you are fulfilling this important role for a spouse or an aging loved one you understand the immensity of your daily tasks. If you are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or another related dementia, your burden is even greater.

Diseases that affect the memory of someone for whom you care impact both your loved one and you as the caregiver. A disease that leaves your mother like a little child who thinks you are her mother, or mistaking you as a stranger in her home who means her harm, can cause feelings of anger, betrayal, hopelessness, and fear of what lies ahead in the disease’s progression.

Forgetfulness related to a form of dementia is also frustrating for your aging loved one. When your father can’t remember where the bathroom is in your home, he may feel anxious or embarrassed. These feelings might make him resist going out in public or coming to visit the grandchildren.

Family Caregivers can become irritable or edgy when forgetful loved ones ask repetitive questions, repeat obsessive gestures or sounds, or resist bathing or changing clothes even when odors would begin to emerge from bodies or clothing in need of a good washing.

This Independence Day we hope you can take a deep breath and offer your loved ones the freedom to forget. You need to remember that the disease has taken away these abilities from those you love; it never offered them a choice, but it is your choice as to how you will handle the resulting behaviors. Choose today to embrace forgetten names, places, routines, even basic tasks. Perhaps you could go mining in your loved one’s memories. Ask them to tell you about seeing fireworks shows as a child or make hotdogs to eat and talk about your favorite memories as a child celebrating the 4th of July. Sing patriotic songs together or listen to them on a recording. You might learn things you never knew about your aging parent or spouse, and you might even discover a few things about yourself!

Chris and I hope you will join our conversation below and share your heart about how you celebrate holidays with your loved one.

 

Playing Family Feud

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Remember the gameshow, Family Feud? Betsy and I both loved watching it when we were younger; even today I occasionally find a clip online and laugh at the family dynamics involved in trying to think of all the right answers to the questions asked. Some families handled the tension well, laughing at answers that ranged from silly to outrageously wrong. Other families, however, were quite the opposite when someone gave an incorrect response. They lashed out with anger, irritation, and even embarrassment as they lost one round after another.

Family dynamics are surprisingly vulnerable when an aging family member needs care. Tensions may flare, sometimes over unresolved conflicts in the past, and unforeseen friction might interfere with finding the best solution for your loved ones. Of course, everyone is trying to find the right answers to the questions you are all facing in finding the right kind of care, and the right amount of that care.

The first question to arise usually relates to whether your loved one can remain in their own home or if they need to move to a facility. Depending on your family’s  unique circumstances, either of these answers may be the right one. Nearly every older person wants to be able to age in place, but most will need some amount of assistance as their age advances. If the assistance needed requires a significant amount of skilled care now or in the near future, or if cognitive decline is advanced, care in a facility might be the best option. If, however, your mom or dad enjoys their independence and can still safely live at home with some level of support, home care is a better plan that lets them remain comfortably and safely. Either way, this is NEVER the time to begin arguing about who will care for Mom or Dad.

If home care is the best plan for your particular circumstance, that option should receive careful consideration, and should not be made in a split-second decision. As always, planning is the key to a successful outcome that gives everyone a win. Home Instead, through its website for family caregiver support, http://www.CaregiverStress.com, gives 6 Strategies to reduce the drama and avoid a family feud. Begin today to have these conversations with other members of your family before care is needed. Develop a plan before one is needed and when you do, you will be ready.

Betsy and I hope you will join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about avoiding family feuds.

The Value of Respite Care

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Family caregivers take on a tremendous amount of responsibility when they agree to oversee an aging family member’s care. Chris and I have owned a home care company for 20 years now, and we have seen too many family caregivers lose their own health while caring for another. I recently received a letter from the son of one of our clients, a woman who needed care for few weeks while she recovered from surgery. In the letter, he wrote,

“…I’ve seen the toll family caregivers take thinking they can do it all, and (I) wanted more for my family.”

One of the biggest mistakes a family caregiver can make is trying to go it alone with no help from others. This decision, a “Lone Ranger” mentality, can lead to irreversible damage to the caregiver’s physical health as well as their mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Even if you are the only family member that is available to become the family caregiver, that doesn’t mean you have to be the only person involved in giving care. Sharing care with others is a much more balanced approach to providing the best care possible while keeping yourself healthy as well.

Respite care should be a vital piece of your caregiving puzzle. Respite means to take a break or give temporary relief from a stressful situation. Having a respite care plan is essential to successfully navigating your season of caregiving for aging loved ones. Your plan could reflect several different solutions, and might involve other family members, friends, or neighbors, a brief facility stay or even a professional home care agency; any or all of these possibilities will benefit you greatly by providing you with a break from time to time.

If you choose to put together a plan that incorporates other family members, friends or neighbors you should carefully recruit and equip those individuals with the proper orientation and, if needed, training to be able to step in at a moment’s notice if necessary. Invite them to come and spend a morning or afternoon with you to understand what will be expected of them in their respite care role. Plan to work them into your schedule gradually, even a couple of hours here or there to start. Be available if they have questions. You could go to lunch with a friend or simply move to a different part of the house but keep your phone on and let your substitute work out the kinks before they are needed for a longer stay.

If your situation would be best served with a facility stay then check with local assisted living or skilled care facilities to see if they offer temporary stays for respite care. This might range from a couple of weeks up to a month or more. If you choose to supplement the care you provide with a professional home care company you should choose a company with a reliable reputation and well trained employees so you don’t find yourself in a lurch when the hired caregiver doesn’t show up. Ask about back-up plans and discuss compatibility criteria. The company will most likely want to visit with you and your loved one to set up the temporary or ongoing respite care. The more they understand about your loved one’s needs, and your own as well, the better chance they will have to create a schedule that best suits your needs.

Caregiving is stressful, but with support from others and a respite strategy you can be more consistent, more reliable, and more giving in the care you provide personally.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about the importance and value of a great respite care plan.

Successful Summer Visits

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Right now, everyone is craving social opportunities like nothing I’ve ever seen before! As we move into the summer months people are turning out in droves for neighborhood events, church gatherings, birthdays and special events. Family reunions and visits with older family members have taken on a new and deeper meaning since we just spent over a year not being able to gather in person. 

Summer has always been a common time for families with young children to travel to visit older relatives who live far away. While I was blessed to live close to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, Betsy grew up with grandparents who lived several hundred miles away. For her, a trip to visit her grandmother meant a 6-hour car ride, and a joyous time of playing on her grandmother’s farm in North Carolina.

This summer, unlike last year, families who have been vaccinated may gather together and enjoy an intergenerational celebration. For some, this will happen at a family reunion, maybe an outdoor event involving food, fellowship, and fun. For others, the visit might be more individualized, like going to stay with grandparents for a few days. These visits are certainly welcomed and encouraged, but they can also be uncomfortably disruptive in a home that is usually quiet and orderly. 

In addition to the loud voices and happy squeals of little ones, there are dangers associated with running children and scattered toys. As the family caregiver, you’d be smart to set some house rules so everyone can enjoy the visit and at the end of the day all are sorry to see the day end.

Consider reaching out to your extended family and inquire about their summer visit plans to get the ball rolling. For those who indicate that a visit is in their upcoming travel plans, have a deeper conversation about planning the visit so everyone can make the most of it.

Update your relative about any changes in condition for those they plan to visit. A gentle word like, “Mom doesn’t walk as well as she used to,” or “Dad seems to get a little confused when his routine changes greatly,” will set the stage for expectations and remind parents of small children to keep a watchful eye on their child’s behavior.

If possible, set up a safe play space for children away from the grownups so conversation can happen in quiet comfort. Perhaps you could hire one or two of the youth from your church or neighborhood to come for a few hours and supervise or even plan activities for the kids while the adults visit.

Another great idea is to have a few age-appropriate toys available to interest and engage visiting children, or children’s videos to watch. Parents could bring toys or videos or make suggestions.

Keep meals simple. Soup and sandwiches, congealed salads, cookout items and the like are quick and easy options. Pasta salad is popular, and cookies and ice cream are both a must for dessert! Don’t stress over what to serve; a pot luck meal is frequently the favorite choice because everyone brings something they love to eat.

Be sure to give the children appropriate time to visit older relatives as their age allows. These visits are critical to developing a strong sense of family and heritage. Include them in the greeting time and at other, quieter times of the day. Ask parents to talk with their children before they arrive to explain any details like, “Granny’s ears don’t work as well as yours, so be patient if she doesn’t understand you,” or, “Uncle Mike can’t walk very well so we need to help him not trip and fall; maybe you could hold his hand when we go to the table for lunch.” Children can be wonderfully empathetic if we help them connect with age-related disabilities.

Finally, remember to plan for snacks. Little bodies need lots of fuel to keep running on high all the time. Let parents know (if they don’t already) a good spot for napping and changing diapers. A good supply of band aides and lollipops is also a smart investment.

Advanced planning and communication are the smartest ways to pull off a wonderful summer of visits for both young and old. Enjoy the visitors of summer! Betsy and I hope you will join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about managing summer’s visitors.

Lessons Learned from the Pandemic of 2020

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It’s been more than 15 months since a pandemic shuttered our world, our country, our communities, and our very lives. Now, as mask mandates are lifted and social distancing decreases, we seem to be gradually coming to the end of the COVID pandemic with its critical health risks, forced business closures, restricted access, and social isolation, and we’ve all learned some important lessons from these past many months. 

We’ve learned that family and other relationships, and spending real, quality time with those we love and care about, are more important than we realized before and we should never leave any loving or encouraging words unspoken, because we are never guaranteed more time that the minutes we are currently living. Travel restrictions, aging care facilities, medical centers and even colleges and universities prevented families from gathering and forced some family members to die alone because of visit restrictions driven by fear of infection. 

We’ve learned that social isolation is highly detrimental to those who live alone, regardless of age or ability. Being prevented from interacting socially with others negatively impacts our lives on every level: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Everyone needs some level of social engagement to be healthy and well-rounded. Advancing age and its related declining conditions and abilities tends to bring on some level of social isolation for many older adults, but the pandemic brought about these conditions almost overnight. Nobody was prepared for the mental and emotional trauma caused by being told to stay at home, only go out for essential tasks, wear masks and gloves, stay 6 feet from others, and limit your exposure to others in your environment to minutes. All these restrictions and limitations resulted in diminished physical activity (which resulted in weight gain for many people), binge or stress eating of comfort foods or overindulgence in alcohol or recreational drugs to help alleviate the stress of living in an unknown situation. Addictions and suicides increased. Many people lost their jobs, or were forced to take an extended, and sometimes unpaid, leave of absence while the business tried to find a way to reopen in compliance with pandemic mandates. Spiritually the damage came about when places of worship were not allowed to meet in person, so congregants lost their weekly opportunity to gather and find strength, support, and courage for the daily challenges that now were made worse by the pandemic. Mentally confusion arose when every day felt like “Blursday” with very little to distinguish weekdays from weekends.

We’ve learned to take technology and make it ours as we have used it to overcome some of the hurdles the pandemic threw in our path. We’ve learned that medical advances can come with blinding speed when scientists and researchers are motivated to collaborate and work together for a common purpose and the good of all people. We’ve learned that we can endure toilet paper shortages (and maybe we should stock up a little more from now on), we can work effectively from a closet in our house (now called the “cloffice”) or anywhere else on the planet as long as the wifi is good, we have managed to help our school-aged children home-school while also managing our own jobs or careers in the next room. We’ve learned that pets are a part of our daily lives and that we need them nearly as much as (and maybe more than) they need us.

We’ve learned all these lessons and so many more, and we will continue to learn as we emerge into the sunlight of a post-pandemic world.

Perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learned is that heroes walk among us, quietly living each day as they go about the business of serving others. Doctors, nurses, social workers, nurse assistants and certified nurse assistants, therapists of all kinds, schoolteachers, janitorial workers, day care providers, home care workers, personal care aides, family caregivers, and many others all show up day after day to do their essential jobs as they care for those who are sick or infirm or injured or weak and alone. These people, and the work they did during the pandemic, should be recognized for keeping our world running despite heretofore unseen challenges. If you are one of these heroes, we honor you here for your remarkable service during the pandemic. Thank you for your tireless service and your caring heart.

AARP offers 15 lessons learned  from COVID-19. Some other sources to inspire your thinking include CNNWebMD, and many more.

Betsy: Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week at here at Heart of the Caregiver to learn more lessons and share your own from the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020.

Memorial Day Observance

Memorial Day is a day set aside for us to remember and honor those who have died while serving in our country’s armed forces. The holiday was initially observed on May 30 from 1868 until 1970, when it was moved to the last Monday in May. The memorializing elements of this holiday are often lost in the onset of the summer vacation season these days, but many older Americans still observe the holiday more traditionally. 

Formerly known as Decoration Day, many people observe this holiday by wearing poppies and placing flags on graves in military cemeteries across the country. Parades and special programs are traditionally held to honor veterans and remember the ultimate sacrifice they made while serving our country.

If your older loved ones know veterans who died in service to our country, perhaps you could visit their grave to place patriotic flowers or a flag. If those you care for are homebound, ask about memories of family members who were in the military. Look at photos and talk about those times. You might be surprised by what you learn!

Even if your mom or dad didn’t know anyone who served during wartime they probably have powerful memories about pivotal military moments such as Pearl Harbor, D-Day, or Desert Storm. Ask if they would be willing to share those memories with you. If they resist or seem uncomfortable talking about these events, then simply change the subject and leave it alone. Not everyone’s recollections are pleasant when related to military action.

Betsy’s family knew military service well. Her maternal grandfather was an infantryman during The Great War (World War I), and all four of his children served in either World War II or the Korean War. Betsy’s mother joined the Marine Corp after college during WWII and served stateside so “another man could go and fight” and her father joined the Army, also in WWII, and saw action in southern Europe and Northern Africa. While Sarah was happy to talk of her military service experience, her husband was always reluctant to discuss what he witnessed and experienced while in service. 

The important consideration for you as a family caregiver is that Memorial Day is intended to honor and remember sacrificial service. Consider how you can best do this with those you care for. There probably won’t be lots of parades and local gatherings again this year but check with your local community’s public events to see if anything is being held. This year people are eager to get out gather socially, so you might find some opportunities to be social. If this isn’t possible, you could put a flag out by your mailbox, or even line your driveway or sidewalk with small flowers. Consider brightening the kitchen with a patriotic bouquet. Perhaps you could write a note of appreciation to a soldier currently deployed through Operation Gratitude. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 pm local time. Another alternative is to make a donation to your local Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) for a “Buddy” Poppy. Your donation will help support disabled veterans through state and national rehabilitation programs.

If nothing else works, enjoy the warm weather and promise of summer just around the bend. With every day we are closer to a post-pandemic new normal!

Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about how you observe Memorial Day.

Focus on Fitness: Who’s Your Family?

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God made us to be social creatures who need a sense of family or belonging to feel safe and whole. It’s a part of our very nature to seek community with others, whether they are our blood relatives or a close, supportive circle of friends. When circumstances force us into extended isolation, as the COVID-19 pandemic has done, our very personhood suffers on many levels. Being a family caregiver frequently places limitations on one’s sense of connectedness outside of the care setting, and families need to stay connected to remain healthy. After all, the saying is true that the family that plays (and prays) together, stays together.

Members of a strong, connected family with healthy social connections tend to be much better at being or supporting family caregivers. These connections may take many forms, and over the last year we have certainly seen those supports expand to include much more technology! When we cannot be present physically, either because of the distance between us or a pandemic or other infectious illness, we can still gain support through frequent phone calls, uplifting text messages, and scheduled video calls. Cards, letters, and emails can also help us feel supported. Audio text messages let a family member hear your voice as well as your message of support and encouragement. A quick minute of video can easily bridge the distance gap and bring you together as well. Technologies like Zoom and FaceTime have even fostered family game nights, trivia nights, and meaningful remote visits as we have found ourselves desperate for ways to “be there” over the past 15 months even when we cannot. As we begin now to emerge from the restricted lifestyles we have been forced to endure, we must continue to make use of the skills we have acquired to strengthen our sense of connectedness even more.

Chris’s family is my best example of how family connections make us stronger and healthier. The man I married more than thirty years ago came from a very close-knit family, while I did not. It was an adjustment for me for sure, but as I have grown into this wonderful group of people over the years, I have learned how much strength, support, and encouragement is found there. Even when my own mother needed care, my in-laws were there for me when I felt stressed, lonely or exhausted. They all lived far away and couldn’t physically step in to help, but they reached out by phone, text, cards, and through prayer to give me support, encouragement, and love. Whenever I needed to talk to someone, I knew that Chris’s (and now my) amazingly supportive family was only a phone call or text message away. Over the past year they have found ways to stay connected, to support one another even as we all have aged into a place where some now need care. Many miles continue to separate us, and family gatherings simply could not happen during the year of the virus, but this family found ways to stay connected and continued to encourage one another to stay strong and persevere. If your family doesn’t regularly communicate and come together periodically, then maybe it’s time to begin some new traditions!

Having this kind of family foundation is incredibly helpful to prevent social isolation for a family caregiver, but not everyone has a family support system. Richard Bach, who authored Jonathan Livingston Seagull, one of my favorite books, also wrote a book called Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. In it I found a quote I resonated with while in college, and I believe it illustrates well what I have found to be true in my life. Here it is:

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

While in your season of caregiving your best support could be found in your circle of friends and neighbors, your church family, support group members or even an agency that employs professional caregivers who supplement the care you provide. If you don’t have any of these underpinnings that lift and fortify you, begin today to develop this kind of support system. You will be healthier for it, I promise.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about where you find your supportive ‘family’ in caregiving.

How Much Can You Lift…Spiritually?

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Family caregivers have endured many hardships over the past year as we have struggled through a pandemic combined with a brutal national election cycle and, depending on where you live, numerous unprecedented weather-related disasters as well. If you care for an older family member, likely you felt forced to isolate yourself and your loved one socially to prevent possible exposure to COVID-19. Without even the normal social interactions found by going to the grocery store, out to eat or the beauty salon, we suffered in loneliness. Even churches were limited to developing or expanding their online presence or holding parking lot services while congregants remained in their cars. Online worship can be very moving and meaningful, it cannot ever truly replace the strength, nurture and encouragement we experience when we come together as a family of believers. As we talk about a family caregiver’s fitness needs, we must acknowledge that their spiritual support is perhaps more crucial than any other fitness consideration.

Scripture teaches us of the strength and substance found in prayer, scripture study, worship, and Christian fellowship throughout the New Testament. Jesus modeled all these disciplines throughout his brief ministry and steeped His disciples in the importance of constant connection and relationship with our Creator God. As we pray and study scripture, we gain enlightenment and encouragement for the challenges we face each day; through worship we reflect our gratitude to our Lord and Savior who never changes and never gives up on us. Through Christian fellowship we find empathy, strength, courage, and resources to help us when we feel like giving up. Each one of these facets of our spiritual health is beneficial to the caregiving challenges you encounter day after day, but taken all together and practiced regularly, they equip you fully to overcome every obstacle and embody God’s blessings in their truest sense.

Perhaps COVID lulled you into a sense that virtual worship and Bible study is enough. Frankly, it had to suffice while everything was shut down, but don’t be fooled. When it is safe and allowed, get back to in-person worship and fellowship with other believers. Some days you might feel like there’s simply no time for Bible study or prayer time, but with discipline you will discover that those are the days when these practices are the most important features in your day.

Gaining or regaining spiritual fitness might be challenging at first, but I promise you that it will equip you as a family caregiver in ways you never thought possible!

Betsy and I hope you will join the conversation this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about growing spiritually stronger.

The Value of Social Connections

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Over the last year of social isolation and distancing we have learned many things about the damage done by breaking the bonds of social interactions. The pandemic’s forced social distancing, paired with increased vulnerability to infection for certain age groups and those with certain health conditions, led to serious mental decline, increased depression and growth in substance abuse. Overall, those most impacted by social isolation clearly demonstrated the many dangers associated with this lonely lifestyle.

God made us to live in relationships, first with our Maker, and then with each other. We read in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone…” so God created a “helper” for Adam when He made Eve. While Adam was in fellowship with God from his first breath, his human nature needed to be in relationship with another human. Social relationships enhance our quality of life on many levels and also encourage us to grow toward becoming our best selves. Family caregivers frequently find themselves living very isolated lives. Social connectedness can strengthen and support the health and welfare of family caregivers and those they care for alike.

Relationships can be nurtured effectively by using modern technology, which can adequately bridge physical separation by fostering a sense of social connectedness. Social health can be strengthened through remote technology connections like phone calls or video chats, emails, and text messages, or through more traditional vehicles like note cards and letters, but nothing takes the place of in-person conversations. Using a variety of means to overcome physical separation can enhance one’s health on many levels.

Family caregivers frequently battle isolation and loneliness. Negative health impacts include depression, substance abuse and addictions, poor nutritional habits, forgetfulness, sleep disruption, and increased diagnoses of chronic diseases. Satisfying the need to feel connected through interactions with family members, friends, church fellowship and support groups can significantly improve overall health, yielding such benefits as increased brain function, better nutrition and self-care, and improved caregiving stamina and ability.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about strengthening your social connections.