Lack of social support from your family and friends can have negative implications for your health and wellness as a caregiver. In fact, researchers suggest that maintaining poor social networks could have the same psychosocial and biomedical risk factors as cigarette smoking. Poor social support among caregivers is also associated with increased mortality, depression, physical health problems, and other health-related issues.
What does it mean to be socially well?
The term social wellness refers to interpersonal relationships and access to support from family, friends, church, and community while caregiving. Social wellness also takes into account cultural norms, the level of comfort with others, and the opportunity to contribute to the lives of others, each of which has been associated with positive health benefits. Having a strong social network is important for caregivers because the activity in which you participate is not only a part of who you are but also aids you in coping with stressful situations.
Social wellness is a part of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis. The components are not chronological; rather, they represent collective components. According to the Caregiver Wellness: U Model, being socially well means that you have access to adequate social supports while you are caring for a sick or disabled loved one.
Are you socially well?
Unfortunately, it is not that uncommon for caregivers to put their own interests aside, miss or quit participating in church activities, overlook social gatherings with their close friends, and even quit working. Please take this opportunity to evaluate your social wellness. There are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement and one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
Caregiver social wellness scale
I am able to take time away from caregiving to attend to my spiritual needs.
Despite the fact that I have caregiving responsibilities, I continue to have contact with friends at the same level as I did in the past.
There are people at work I can talk to about caregiving.
I am satisfied with the number and quality of social supports available from family, friends, church, and my community.
I participate in at least two social gatherings or social activities per month.
Evaluate your social wellness score
A score of 7 or higher may indicate that you are socially well.
A score between 4 and 6 may indicate that you are doing okay with social support.
A score between 0 and 3 may indicate that you might want to reach out to improve your social network.
Four tips to improving your social network
The following are four tips to improve your social network as a caregiver.
Expand your network. If you do not have extended family nearby or, unfortunately, you don’t get along with the family that is near you, try to build a network of new friends. These friendships can form in work settings, with support group members, in online chat rooms, or from long-standing relationships.
Take time to do things outside your role as a caregiver. If you do not take time away from what you do as a caregiver, then you are likely to experience burnout. Most caregivers have had interests prior to caregiving and should continue having interests outside the role as a caregiver. Take time for personal interests because time won’t make itself. Go to the movies or have lunch with a friend, reach out by calling someone with whom you have not spoken in a while, send an e-mail, or write a card.
Listen to the Caregiver Wellness: Power of U recording. This web seminar helps family and professional caregivers manage stress associated with caring for a client or loved one. Seminar content examines the roles of stress and distress and how they impact caregivers’ decision-making abilities. You will discover the important differences between the concepts of “helping” caregiving and “rescuing” caregiving. You also will learn to use the “Caregiver Wellness: U Model” in order to develop social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness and cultivate empowerment and resilience.
Join Caregiver Support Services on Facebook. Finally, it is important that you make a personal commitment to caring for you by contacting Caregiver Support Services when you need help.