As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, you probably know full well that having a social life, in addition to all the daily caregiving tasks you do for your loved one, is a real challenge to say the least. In fact, you may have turned down social invitations so often (due to your busy caregiving schedule) that friends have stopped inviting you to join them.
There are many common reasons that caregivers stop accepting social invitations as a chronic disease such as Alzheimer’s progresses. Some of these include;
•Fear that a sudden decline in a loved one’s health condition may cause the caregiver to have to call and turn down an invitation at the last minute.
•Avoidance of taking the care recipient to social engagements because of fear of judgement or ostracizing of a loved one with AD due to misunderstanding of the disease.
•Shame or fear of symptoms of AD (such as memory impairment) causing friends to patronize the individual with AD.
•Fear that accommodations at a restaurant or social setting may not fit the needs of the loved one with AD.
•Avoidance of questions from those who are not well educated about AD.
•Feelings of exhaustion, not having enough energy to get out and socially engage.
•Feeling disheveled due to the lack of time for self-care (such as shopping for clothes, getting a haircut, or taking care of one’s appearance) due to an overwhelming to do list.
Socialization is an important aspect of self-care. All humans need to interact with others on a fairly regular basis in order to maintain balance in life. If you are a caregiver, and you relate to many of the reasons Alzheimer’s caregivers avoid accepting social invitations, here are some tips that may help;
1.When you are invited to socialize, accept the invitation on a conditional basis. Let your friend/s know that there is a possibility you may not be able to attend-depending on your loved one’s condition. Ask if it’s okay to confirm the invite a day or so before the party or event. Knowing you have the green flag to renege if you need to will help lower the stress of saying yes to an invitation that may be weeks away.
2.Ask a family member to assist you with some much needed time off to plan for shopping, making a salon or barber shop appointment, and/or otherwise preparing yourself for a social outing. If a family member is not available, consider hiring a professional respite care.
3.Help friends understand AD by encouraging them to sign up for FREE Alzheimer’s prevention online lessons at www.Alz.org
4.Stay flexible when it comes to planning whenever possible. If you are invited to dinner on a specific night, ask friends if they can put aside a couple of different dates so that if one dinner date falls through, you can plan to go out on a subsequent day.
5. Plan simple social outings (such as picnics, potluck dinners and more) with close family members and include your loved one with AD whenever possible.
6.Try not to plan to far ahead and stay in the now. Worrying about what might happen down the road adds to caregiver’s stress and defeats the purpose of planning a night out to relax and enjoy oneself.