"Courageous care partners recharge with self-care, striving for peaceful pinnacles
in patience, persistence, and positive 
changes, knowing when to conquer and when to comfort."

Sometimes, I feel alone, despite being surrounded by people.

Oct 24, 2019 by Eileen Adler

Sometimes, I feel alone, despite being surrounded by people.

It’s possible that when we are caring for someone, we neglect our own needs in deference to theirs. This is a wonderful altruistic goal, but it can leave damaging effects. Without realizing it, we may sink into depression, a common complaint among many care partners.  If it is just easier to stay at home, realize that it’s not healthier, in fact, loneliness may have the same detrimental effects as a chronic disease.   

What might contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation? Retirement, or it might be called rewirement, requires a huge adjustment. From where everybody knows your name to “who are you?” Not easy. Widowhood may come by surprise after caring for your loved one for a long period of time. With retirement and widowhood, the need to move may present itself, needing to move closer to your family or needing to downsize. All good, but the social life you had will be compromised, if not obliterated. With the loss of hearing or vision or the ability to drive, we may find it harder to participate in social events and activities. As your care receiver’s abilities decline, you find yourself at home and alone, unable to pursue your social life as you once were able to. We may find ourselves self-isolating because it just seems too hard to try to have a social life. “Social isolation is a problem that receives relatively little attention and sustained focus, but it undermines the health and well-being of millions of older adults,” says AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson.


Self-care Rituals: Ways to mitigate loneliness:

  • Plan visits from friends and family. I am not Miss Social Butterfly but having company come to me is a perfect compromise for both of us.  
  • Encourage the continuation of activities you both enjoy.
  • If paying for transportation is a line item on your budget, find associations that provide free transportation. I just received this message from a friend, also a care partner, “Are you aware of the free transportation program, sponsored by the Parkinson’s Association, that will take you to and from Parkinson’s Association events, neurology appointments, and support group meetings?” If this is true for one association, it’s probably true for others – do check out your options. 
  • Focus on the relationship, not the activity.