Mom is never by herself.
She has caregivers near her 24/7 and we keep a constant eye on her. She rarely communicates with this world anymore so we have to guess about her discomfort if she starts wiggling or talking; is she hungry, thirsty, or cold? We all fuss over her like mother hens until she settles back down.
Dr. Cohen and Matthew, our hospice contacts, have often remarked how well we care for Mom. Dr. Cohen says we spoil her. If so, I think she deserves it. She spoiled her family for years!
Not all caregiving situations are like ours. Mom has always been so sweet and it’s easy to care for her. I know from reading caregiving and dementia blogs that many others don’t have such an easy situation. My heart grieves for those who are in a difficult place. My heart grieves for those, too, who are in a lonely place.
Many of my Mondays with Mom articles have talked about the loneliness of caregiving. I am in a unique situation with so many wonderful people who care for Mom, but I am in the minority. Many caregivers are struggling with the high demands of an early dementia patient or loved one. Others are simply overwhelmed with doing everything alone. Knowing that, it seems frivolous for me to be the voice that keeps highlighting the forced solitude of caregiving, but it’s the subject that has landed hard on my heart.
It’s not only caregivers who are lonely. New studies show that younger adults tend to be the loneliest group overall. According to a study published by Cigna, “46 percent of U.S. adults report sometimes or always feeling lonely and 47 percent report feeling left out.” Cigna also reports “only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.”
Along with this feeling of loneliness comes the risk of a person suffering heart disease and stroke, and is as hazardous as smoking or obesity. According to the World Economic Forum, “lonely people could even be at risk of dying earlier.”
Scripture has a lot to say about loneliness. It isn’t a new, 21st-century problem. Jeremiah, Job, and even Jesus dealt with loneliness. David wrote many psalms about his feelings, including this one:
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!
But that wasn’t the end of his plea:
20 Guard my life and rescue me, do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.
Psalm 25:16-21 New International Version (NIV)
(Underlined emphasis mine.)
I hope these scriptures will comfort and encourage you. Take refuge in God’s love and place your hope in Him. I’ll share more encouragement next week.