The fourth principle is to maintain social contacts.
Never underestimate the importance of maintaining regular contact with your circle of friends or social network. This can include friends, church contacts, acquaintances from clubs and former or current co-workers. It is important for the primary caregiver to maintain a social network beyond the family or caregiving circle.
These friends--who are not immersed in the family situation--lend support to the caregiving process. They spend time with the caregiver and offer objective advice or insight. They can help the caregiver to focus on interests outside of his/her role as caregiver. They provide comfort during difficult times. They can even run errands for the caregiver in a pinch.
In general, maintaining social contacts gives the caregiver a buffer from day to day challenges and stresses of caregiving. In some cases, friends can be used to air frustrations, concerns or fears. They can be there to vent anger or simply to help the caregiver to relax and have fun for awhile.
Sharing with friends enables the caregiver to come back to their loved ones in a way that helps them better to nurture and help the family member in need.
Information and support for families can be found at the NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania website.