Caregiving Is Hard Enough. Isolation Can Make It Unbearable.

For years, Marcy Sherman-Lewis went to a beauty salon in St. Joseph, Mo., every few weeks for a haircut and highlights.

It had become something of an ordeal to prepare her husband, Gene Lewis, for this outing; he has Alzheimer’s disease, at 79, and helping him shower and dress, insert hearing aids and climb into the car was a very slow process.

But she could no longer leave him at home alone. And once at the salon, “he just sat, watched TV, slept — didn’t bother anybody,” said Ms. Sherman-Lewis, 62. Her stylist kindly trimmed his hair, too.

Then last month, the salon owner took Ms. Sherman-Lewis aside. “Marcy, he makes my other patrons awfully uncomfortable,” she said.

“I was dumbfounded,” Ms. Sherman-Lewis said. “It’s O.K. for other people’s little grandchildren to be running around sometimes. What am I supposed to do, keep him in a crate in the car?”

Like so many caregivers, she has discovered that along with the abandoned career, the hands-on tasks, the medical scheduling, the insurance tussles and the disrupted sleep, she faces another trial: social isolation.

– The New York Times

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