In the middle of life despite care degree: How to stay connected

from | Oct 28, 2022

The restrictions that accompany the need for care extend far beyond the recognition of a care degree. They often also lead to the isolation of those affected, loss of social contacts and reduced participation in life outside the home. How can this be prevented? 

Anyone in need of care has to contend with a wide range of problems that make social connection considerably more difficult. These include restrictions on mobility and independence - whether it's that once-simple tasks suddenly require multiples of time and energy that can no longer be invested in maintaining social obligations, or simply that people with walking disabilities, for example, need appropriate aids and support to be able to go out into a public environment ... even if it's just to meet up with friends in a café. 

Social participation: more important than ever before

Yet it is particularly important in old age to maintain social contacts, to meet and exchange ideas. The loneliness of seniors is a well-known problem, and it is multidimensional. Widows and widowers in particular are often left alone at home for long periods of time, and many people in need of care have difficulty maintaining contact with friends who may also need care, or even making new acquaintances. If, on the other hand, social participation is made possible through adequate care, this not only increases the well-being of those in need of care, but also prevents psychological stress and mental breakdown. 

Not letting social life end with the need for care is a challenge faced by caregivers and cared-for people alike - but they can get help. It starts with the level of care: It's helpful to know exactly which level of care entitles you to which entitlements ... and it makes sense to claim them. The more support relatives and those affected receive, and the easier and less complicated care becomes as a result, the faster it is also possible to live beyond care again. 

Independence and mobility: possible again through care

Of particular importance here are the dimensions of independence and mobility. Enabling those in need of care to be independent - for example, through the aids paid for by the long-term care insurance fund once the care level has been recognized - means making their participation in social life more independent of the help of their relatives, which relieves the burden on both sides. Making independent personal hygiene possible again, for example with non-slip mats for the bathroom or shower stools, or the possibility of employing a domestic helper to keep the home clean, for example, provide an incentive to invite visitors back and make friends. 

The aspect of mobility includes, for example, the use of aids such as rollators or wheelchairs, which enable many to leave the house independently again. Going to a café with friends, participating in senior citizens' meetings or forums for people in need of care, but also just going shopping again yourself means taking part in life and not letting it end at your own front door. 

Staying social - in every situation  

One aspect that is often overlooked, but whose importance cannot be overemphasized, is the organization of contact with the caregivers themselves. Especially in families where children care for their parents, efforts should be made not to limit the relationship to the dimension of caregiving, but to maintain it in all its facets. To lose the parent-child relationship in favor of a caregiver-patient relationship would mean giving up an important part of the lives of many parents and children.  

The easiest way to make contact casual is to make care as simple as possible. In addition to promoting the independence of those in need of care, the simplest tricks help considerably here - having everyday care products delivered instead of having to go out and buy them yourself every time saves time and energy, for example, which can be invested in spending time together instead. 

So life does not end with the need for care. Those who seek help in good time prevent social withdrawal, retain relationships in their circle of friends and family, and perhaps even make new contacts without losing anything.