Since being a live in caregiver I've discovered my friends are "fairweather friends".

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A year ago I gave up my employment and locked up my condo and moved into care for my elderly mum. I'm almost 53. My "friends" know how difficult this is for me, it is very isolating and lonely. I have no way of meeting new people, yet if I want to get together for lunch with friends it is always me that has to initiate it. Nobody emails me to ask me how I'm doing, it's like out of sight out of mind. When I do meet them for a visit, the first thing they ask me is how my mum is, nobody asks me how I am doing anymore. There is some Facebook interaction but I'm slowly trying to spend less time on FB because I find reading about all the wonderful, exciting things everyone is doing makes me feel sad and a bit down. I'm happy for them but not for me. I've been looking for an online support forum to chat with people who know what I am feeling, along with the fact that I receive no help from siblings, I feel resentful. Does anyone understand what I'm feeling?

21 Comments

Fortunately I don't know what you are going through from personal experience, but I'm sure I'll get there. My husband is in the early stages of AD, and I'm still free to go out, but I can see the road ahead!

Since they are the only friends you have, can you give them a pass on not calling you? There are people who never ask me out, but usually accept my invitations, and we have a good time. Before a social event, I try to think about interesting topics to share, so I won't feel so much like a boring lump.

It's not fair that you have to do all the work to get a social life, however limited. But if you do enjoy these outings, please do what's necessary to make them happen.

This website has become a big part of my social life. The people here are so wise and kind. Look at "the Caregiver and Dysfunctional Families" thread. or the "toothbrush" thread - the recent posts - to find a group you like. HUG!
Thanks, what you say is true. I guess it just bugs me that I heard from them when my life was good but now that I have restrictions.. they have moved on. I will still continue initiating lunches out because I do feel happier when I have had social interaction. I wish you all the very best with your hubby. HUGS back to you!
I'm sorry to say this but people who have not had the caregiving experience, or have been deeply invested in a friend or family member who has, tend to think of what you did as "a choice" rather than a responsibility or obligation. I have found many even close friends thank you have made a choice take on the attitude that you "made your own bed" so to speak, and now you have to lie in it. It's funny that I had these friends that were a couple and when I was care taking my dad, he tried to talk me out of it. The joke was that both of his parents needed a lot of care, attention and assistance and it was his WIFE taking care of his parents. I recall saying to him, as he told me I was doing too much for my dad, that when the time came, he was a nice guy, and would probably find he'd do what was needed to help his folks. He was pretty sure he wouldn't. At another time when I talk to privately with his wife and kind of dance to delicately around that subject, she said she loves his folks and would do anything to help them knowing it would also take the pressure of him. Hmmmm???

Her social life was not going to be curtailed buy her caretaking, at least at that point in time, because they were a couple. It is much more difficult for single people. My best advice is to forgive your friends they're short sightedness and try to maintain relationships as best you can. Come here or go to a support group to vent your caretaking concerns but don't share them with your friends to any large extent because they won't understand and little by little the want to pull away from what they perceive as negativity. It's an unfortunate side of human nature.
I'm also single and I know what you mean. I started getting out through the MeetUp website and made some new friends in several different groups. I've been caregiving for 12 years and most people, even though who were caregivers, haven't had to do it for that long, so they have no idea what it's like. I have one cousin who really understands because she took care of her mom, so I turn to her when I'm really needing some understanding.

Can you check out any support groups in your area for caregivers - either through a local hospital or the Area Agency on Aging (if you're in the US). Making friends with others who are currently caregiving is great. Caregiving is a very isolating experience which is why this site is so great. We all get to share our stories and trials and tribulations.
Thanks, the opinions and thoughts you share are all true. It's interesting about my friends though, because when I DO go out for lunch with them the LAST thing I want to talk about is my mum and yet the first thing they ask is "how is your mum?", they don't ask how I am and they don't even know her. Human nature is very interesting, I guess I just found their behaviour a disappointment, it's not who I thought they were. I have made it very clear to people who say that looking after an elderly parent is like having a child .. not true .. having children is a choice (at least in most cases).
I am luckier than some, I do have a few hours every afternoon to go out or do what I want because my mum sleeps in the afternoon.
I'm glad I found this forum, it's helpful to read other people's perspective. Everyone can relate to each other. Thanks so much!
On a more general note: people are weird. It does seem common that when a person goes through a significant life change, a bunch of their friends distance themselves or disappear. Even when there is no good reason to do so. I've had people back off just because I have an exam period coming up - they assume I cannot possibly be free for anything (when it fact a bit of fun would be a healthy break from studying). I'm not sure what it is is except maybe they are projecting their own fears and assumptions onto you? As in: THEY think of caregiving as this all-encompassing commitment, so they assume it's engulfing YOU. And then leave you to be engulfed!

Ideally with the better/closer friends you'll be able to say: I *want* to do and talk about things other than mother, I'm still me!
The reason your friends ask how your mom is and not how you are is because their perception is that your mom is sick and you're not. They don't understand the physical, emotional and mental toll caregiving takes on the caregiver.
If you let them know what you want to talk about, they will probably follow your lead. People hate it when they don't know what to do.
All good, sound advice. Thank-you!!
Whay should I do if a clint falls for me?

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