When you’re caring for an older adult with dementia, loneliness is a common feeling.  It might feel like nobody else understands what you’re going through, even if you have a good support system.  You also might avoid sharing the full details of the situation with family or friends because you want to protect them from the harsh reality. This can compound the stress and make you feel more alone.

Dr. Barry J. Jacobs writes about caregiver loneliness in dementia care and shares 4 tips to help overcome it and work toward more balance.  As a member of the AARP Caregiver Expert Panel and a clinical psychologist and family therapist, Dr. Jacobs is an expert on the challenges of caregiving.

Here, we summarize essential tips from his article.

4 tips to overcome caregiver loneliness from Dr. Jacobs

1. Connect with people

You need caring people in your life to support you as you care for your older adult.  Even though you may need to make an effort to keep them close, reach out to family and friends. Those relationships help you reduce stress, prevent isolation, and boost your mood.

A caregiver support group is another wonderful place to meet people who are in situations similar to yours – there are in-person and online groups.  In these groups, fellow caregivers will understand what you’re going through.  You might even be more comfortable sharing the not-so-positive details of your caregiving life and how you’re truly feeling than you would with family or friends. 

2. Lean on deeper relationships too

It’s great to have people to get coffee or lunch with but to stop the feelings of loneliness, it also helps to have deeper relationships.  These are the people you feel comfortable sharing your real feelings with – good and bad. You can truly confide in them and trust that they’ll be supportive.

3. Express your true feelings

You might think that sharing any negative feelings will make you a burden on others or sink you into a depression.  But sharing and connecting with others will lighten your emotional load. It will also help others get a better understanding of the situation so they can better support you.

4. Accept praise

You might instinctively wave away any praise from family or friends. It could be because you don’t feel like you deserve it or because you feel like they don’t know enough about the situation.  But it is important to accept praise. It’s another way to connect with people who care about you and allow them to provide support by cheering you on.

*Adapted from Daily Caring, Practical Senior Care Tips for Everyday Challenges.