Life after caregiving.

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I was a caregiver for almost 6 years. First my grandma and then my mom. I didn't receive much help so my life revolved around them. I lost touch with friends and family. Now both of them have passed away, and it is hard to pick up your life again. I'm trying to try new things and to make new friends, but some days it feels overwhelming. My mom was always the person I could talk to even when she would have a hard time responding. I loved them both and being alone is hard. I'm not sure what was harder being the sole caregiver without a lot of help, or trying to live without them and being alone. It almost feels like I gave up my chance at a family when I took care of them, but I can't regret doing it because they are so important to me. I just had to talk to some one and this is all I have right now.


Ask yourself what are your interests...perhaps something you are interested in could provide a volunteer opportunity..every community has varied needs for volunteers, everything from museum guides to animal rescue to helping at food banks, etc. It is a nice way to meet new people and just get out and about. Do you have any interest in travel...perhaps a tour to someplace you always wanted to see...even if you have don't have a travel companion, there are tours that would be good for single traveler...maybe even part-time work would give you new contacts....also check if there are support groups in your area for anything that might be of help in finding someone to talk to and even think if you might want to try to reconnect with any friends or family you lost touch with over the years. Take care and all the best.
One other thought or two...give yourself some time to adjust to a new chapter in your life...what you did in taking care of your loved ones was must be a very caring and loving person to have done so...again take care and if you feel overwhelmed just remember to you can forward at your own pace.
3930 helpful answers
Little75, you are grieving not only the loss of your family but the loss of what you considered your sense of purpose. Time will help.

Counseling may be a good way to help you transition to another life, so to speak. Many of us have spent so many years as caregivers that it becomes our identity. I have. It sounds like you have. There's no weakness in seeking the help of someone who can listen long term and perhaps guide you as you find new meaning in your life.

Please keep us updated on how you are doing. You'll help others as well as yourself.
Take care,
After my dad died 1.5 years ago, I felt lost, yet found. I knew I was "free", yet felt trapped, not knowing what to do with my life. I felt relief, and guilt. I pondered going to school, getting a job, taking up a hobby, volunteer...I chose nothing instead. I focused on family around me that I had neglected in caring for my dad. Over time, I began to venture out of my comfort zone, and started living life again, even went on vacations. Now, with my MIL recently diagnosed with dementia, and needing care I'm willing to go another round, yet life will be different this time. I know better what to expect, as well as better ways to handle it. At the same time, I'm going to set better boundaries for myself this time...I don't want to " lose myself" again in the process. Some of us are caregivers from birth, however that doesn't mean we are to care at our total expense. Give yourself time, as much as you need, and if you find yourself in an emotional rut, don't hesitate to seek counsel, or even a caregivers support group. What you did for your loved ones is beautiful, what you will become will be priceless.
VOLUNTEER. You meet the BEST people because only the BEST people give of themselves. I fundraise for a Trap-Neuter-Return Cat Rescue, am trained as a Master Tree Stewart and teach a section on the importance of trees in the fourth grades in our county, I trained in CPR/AED/First Aid so that I can be that person when the Girl Scouts go camping, I sing so I am asked to lead the town G.S. troupes in caroling, and am active in a coalition to save our local Olmsted park from being turned into a sports complex/rock concert venue by the county. I found talented, generous people in every one of those organizations. I am so busy, I still don't have time for one-on-one with friends, but I barely miss it.
I can relate so much to your situation because i recently lost my mom with alzheimers after almost four years of being here locally and moving here from colorado. Her declining condition was so difficult to watch and all i cared about was being with her every minute i could after working. These few weeks of grieving for her loss have left me empty, with a hole in my heart, with no identity and no purpose. But as a friend told me, we all need something to look forward to, like maybe a day trip or weekend trip , a purpose, like being with animals, photography, church, nature or something you believe in and something or someone to love. Time to fill up your heart with fun, music, spirituality, love, peace, acceptance, serenity, contentment for your next chapter if life. I am in the same place you are so keep us posted. Blessings to you, colorado proud, carol
My caregiving has also come to an end after four years of providing 24/7 care for my mom with Alzheimer's and her hubby with general age related decline, and truth be told, I think early stages of dementia. They were both moved by my twisted sibs to a senior living community, mom in memory care, he in assisted. There was little help from in town sibs, in fact the opposite they caused a tremendous amount of additional stress and it evolved into legal wrangling. It has been nearly five months now.

I have been looking for work, I want to return to my profession, which I loved. In fact, I am hoping receive a job offer today for a position I interviewed for last week. There are some positions that I applied for that I have not heard back at all. Another one I did hear back via postcard telling me that I did not meet minimum qualifications for the position. That was completely unexpected. This employer wanted someone with ten years combined experience and education. I completed my Master's degree while caring for my folks, there was no way, with twenty-five years experience in my field coupled with my education that I did not meet minimum qualifications! So, I emailed HR and the acting director of the department asking for clarification and whether four years of caregiving had impacted their decision. The response I received was an apology indicating the postcard had been filled out incorrectly and my resume had been sent on to the department. Hmmmm.... Whatever. This was the first time that I advocated for myself through looking for work.

I became so accustomed to advocating for the folks that I was not prioritizing advocating for myself. And the first time I did, received the response I was hoping for. Another reason I decided to ask why, was the acting director is also the director of the Agency on Aging in this community. If anybody understands the caregiving role it would be that woman.

Finishing caregiving is an adjustment. My days had been some sort of constant chores all the while advocating for the folks. So, I switched focus from them to me. I need, and Little, you need to learn to advocate and care for yourself. It is a process, for sure. I still spend alot of time by myself which is the sort of person I am. I have always enjoyed alone time, in fact I don't know how I managed four years of caregiving.

Getting my life back is difficult. Finding work will help and has given me other things to think about other than the occurrences of the past four years, much of it very hurtful. Counseling helps, as I found someone that specializes in caregiver issues. Initially, after the move all of our talks centered around the vindictiveness of my sibs and how much more difficult they made my task. Counselor would always ask what am I doing about getting my life back. I did not have an answer. My caregiving experience was all consuming with very little time for me. Now all my time is mine. Now, I notice our chats are gradually shifting to be concentrated on me and where I am going rather than revolving around what the sibs have done to me and the folks the past years.

How long ago did your mom pass? My mom has not passed, but I have lost her both to the disease and her daily presence in my life. I too am grieving, though differently than you are, Little. It is going to take both of us time to move on. One day at a time. Baby steps. Finding things that we are interested in doing, but first lots of me time to process what we have done these last years and where we want to go.

My only advice is take your time to grieve. Find a group that you would like to get to know and participate in. Book clubs, knitting, sewing, walking or even just meeting for coffee. Check to see what "meetup" groups are in your area if you want to make friends. These are relatively easy to participate in and there are thousands in my area. If you do not like the first group you attend, try another and another. Volunteer work is also a very good way to meet people, while helping others.

Best wishes to you, and to me too.
Thank you for sharing and giving all of us a chance to grieve with you and to encourage you. I lost my father 6yrs ago and am presently facing the huge and painful decision of whether I need to place my mother, an Alzhiemer victim, some where, as her condition has become one beyond what I can care for. It feels so lost and lonely, but you are not alone. Allow yourself time to grieve over not just your loss but the life you've become. But be proud of where you have been, who you are, and where you are going. All the suggestions here are great. When your ready, get busy with something that is for you. Nothing is more fulfilling than volunteering. You get to feel yourself being useful again and doing something you love. And it's a great way to meet people, many who have been through what you have. This site has been a lifesaver to me and I hope that knowing people are there for you can help you as well. I personal volunteer in a free Bible education work. Not only has this helped me see my value and purpose in life, it helps me to help others to do the same. As mentioned, please keep us informed on how you are doing. My prayers are with you. Judy
3930 helpful answers
Wonderful response, gladimhere. You've been a blessing on this community.
We're wishing you to best in your job search. I hope that you find a company that deserves you!
Thank you, Carol. Rather long and drawn out, but I NEEDED that!

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