Fight Against Loneliness
Last updated: August 2017
As a caregiver, it is important to stay connected to your loved one. One constant thread with those battling COPD is loneliness. This is even true for people that live with their primary caregiver.
So much of life is changing for your loved one. Not only is there a change in them physically, but there is a great deal of change happening socially and emotionally. As this disease progresses, it becomes more and more important to stay away from people when they are sick. Also, the fatigue and changes in oxygen needs may keep them from making the effort to get out of the house.
For someone that has spent a large part of their lives building relationships and taking care of others, there is a huge disconnect when they can no longer be as involved as usual. It could be as simple as family members backing off of visiting for a while, or knowing that the flu is making its way through the families at church causing your loved one to stay away for a while. It could be a short time, but this can lead to loneliness. Once those short times become long stretches, deep loneliness can set in.
Here is another scenario: the primary caregiver is busy with life: work, their own social life, and caring for someone. Without noticing, even living in the same house, a disconnect has been created. The COPD patient is spending more and more time in their room, lying on the bed out of necessity, and the caregiver is coming up with more and more ways to be busy so that they don't have to face what is happening. The result is your loved one becomes incredibly lonely.
How can you fix this?
Communicate with your loved one. Make sure that you are spending time in conversation, not just in tasks. There is a craving to be understood, and if you, the caregiver, are not engaged in meaningful conversation with your loved one, you will not ever fully understand the impact of COPD.
Love is spelled T I M E. The dishes can wait. The towels can be folded later. If your loved one is trying to talk to you, stop and listen. Stop everything and listen with your ears, your eyes and your mind. Give the one you love the time to communicate things that are too difficult to put into words. That little bit of time to really hear what is being said will say "you are not alone" louder than you could ever speak it.
Sometimes helping your loved one to see friends and family helps to keep the loneliness monster away. Invite some people over, but don't just invite them. Clean the house and prepare to have some food. Just an announcement that someone is coming to a planner and doer can just add more stress and frustration to the situation. Especially if they are unable to get the home in order and take care of the guest, but if you really take care of everything, it will become a relaxing, enjoyable time.
Loneliness can cause issues in other areas of life. Specifically, it can lead to depression. Then depression can affect the desire to push through and fight. Once the will to fight is gone, COPD begins to win. Be the valiant knight that your loved one needs right now and help fight this loneliness!
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