What is the next chapter in my life after my caregiving days are over?

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Where do I start? I came to care giving as a matter of economics and need. Mom moved in with us when her eyes from macular degeneration and hard of hearing were pretty much the extent of her fears of living alone. The dementia showed up a few years later. When it did, it was seldom and randomly occurring. I had a neighbor come in for a couple of hours a day while I worked full time and the kids were in school. Then when I was laid off in 2009, I thought why pay my neighbor to come over when I can do the care giving. I checked into what programs were out there and found that she qualified for some care and I could get paid to do it which helped both, mom and my family's income needs. I grew up in a household that had an elderly grandparent in it so it seemed natural to do it. Although, the extent I eventually was care giving in the end was so much more than my mom EVER did for grandpa.

Over the next 4 years, mom needed more and more care. By the end she was up to 10.5 hours a day of physically care. I always with much guilt wondered what would happen when she either had to be placed in a nursing facility or passed away. I hated that thought but realistically had to think about it. I never really admitted that to anyone...even my husband or family because to me it felt so wrong to talk about life after mom. So here I am now, just 74 days after her passing and I feel very lost and extremely stressed out.

I live in a very small community and the employment opportunities are extremely limited. There is a larger city 35 miles away but still the opportunities there are not a whole lot better. Lots of competition for every job and since I am 55 and have no college degrees the field is very small. It is very frustrating and my self esteem is getting quite bruised. Searching for a job at 55 and with the talents I have in a small town/area is disheartening enough but I think the most hurtful and frustrating part of this is that no one seems to understand nor does anyone care!

The care giving company I worked for has nothing more in this area for me, (not that I want to go back into care giving right now) and they pretty much don't care what life is for me now. No calls of concern, no program or support for a displaced worker. And there appears to be no support for a person in my situation. All of the extended family, friends and acquaintances, even hospice is supposed to be there up to a year after but have stopped asking what they can do, or how I am. No one calls or e-mails any support. Very few even ask what I am doing now or how I am. These days facebook is my access to the outside world since finances and my identity is pretty much nill.

I sit here at home looking online and in newspapers for job listings and send resumes or apply online to the few out there. I get those denial letters or denial e-mails.

To some of you this will sound like a pitty party but I can not be the only care giver out there that is feeling this and having these issues. I would like to start a blog about this or a support group or a post care giver employment company. SOMETHING! I just do not know how to get there. Any suggestions?

I need to vent and create MY new chapter. I have not found any where else to say these things and I am sure, at least here, on this site, you will understand better than anyone.


It's sort of an after-the-prom feeling, where all the busy hours are replaced by a vacuum of no activity. After my FIL died, a long time ago, my MIL went to work for HANCI, the caregiving company that tended to him. She took care of many people at first, and then it tapered off, as she found other ways to expend her pent-up energy. I am 61 and have found that employers are always looking for someone MUCH younger, and not someone who has been out of the job market for a while. We are dinosaurs in their eyes. Good Luck!
I am presently a caregiver for my husband who has terminal pancreatic cancer. Although I am able to work, I am needed at home. I am highly educated, but am 63 years old, so we are in the same boat. If you are looking for a job, try Home Depot. They hire older employees and it's fun to work there. Give up the "office scene." They do hire younger people with less experience so they can pay them less. We cannot change our age, but we can change our outlook. Good luck to you!
I understand so well. Often we are the recipients of so much lip service. We are so wonderful, we will surely be rewarded, let us know what they can do. Then the voices vanish into the mist of their own lives. After the funeral, there is no sound at all. To tell the truth, I have become a bit jaded to talk of friends and family, because I know there is no substance behind the talk. Everyone leaves it for everyone else to do. I do not blame, because each person has their own life. Still it doesn't make it easier for us.

Beecindy, it sounds like you are doing what you need to do for yourself. I hope that soon you will find the right string to pull and things will open back up for you. Just keep trying and don't give up. I think it is all that any of us can do.
I am currently creating my "new chapter." My husband will soon pass away from pancreatic cancer and I will be totally alone. I have decided to sell my house and move to a more affordable area (Surprise, Arizona). If you are in a position to do something similar, I encourage you to do so. Being a caregiver is one of the most stressful "jobs" I have ever had. I have found that a change of environment, even if it is around the corner is a wonderful way to start. I don't know where you live, but if it is in an expensive area, find somewhere affordable. Be sure to check the job market before making any decisions. Although I am retired, I plan to work part-time to keep my mind busy. My new chapter is already in place. Start planning now! Good luck.
Beecindy so sorry for you. You deserve the best just think positive and believe life will get better. For now getting a job is important for nothing else to take your mind off your worries. I agree that moving somewhere more prosperous is a good idea and can totally understand how youve got here i too am caring for my mum in a small town with no jobs and have decided that I will move from here soon with my mum as I dont want to end up still here in years and like you little prospects.
Maybe if the only work available for now just to get you where you want to be is cargiving then maybe it wouldnt be so bad just to get the money you need to move and restart your life and at least youd know it woulnt be a job for ever just a stepping stone to a better life. BUT i can understand that maybe this kind of work would be too raw for you to deal with right now. If this is not an option then yes a move would be great for you.
Here all my OLD friends have moved on got married and had kids ive nothing in common with them any more and dont have a life outside my mum BUT am excited to move I am a very friendly person and make new friends easily and see it as an adventure new place new people more to do and better job options. Not everyone is as independant as me but really theres nothing to be scared of you will meet new people I always did and your life will get better. At least look into it you never know where life will take you! Good Luck.
I noticed Beecindy said "moved in with us," so there is likely someone else to consider. I hope that the "Us" helps keep things more stable.
Oh yes I didn't realise you have a family sorry!
If you decide to stay where you are, here's a self-employment project you might look into: an errand service. Someone with a good car can make $30/hr running errands such as taking elderly people to their appointments -- or shopping for groceries -- or taking care of animals or garden for an hour a day -- etc!

Your contacts among the local elder care network could refer their friends to you initially. Later you could phase in errands or tasks more interesting to yourself. (For example, fetching and carrying for a florist could lead to working part time at the florist -- same for art galllery, antique mall, etc.)

Good luck with your freedom!
beecindy, I'm completely in touch with what you are feeling. Changing your life with a move like this will breathe renewal into your life. I've been studying the greater Phoenix housing market, and Surprise is a fantastic opportunity. The pay scale in AZ is a bit lower than here in Calif. I lived there for 4 years. I was living in a small high-desert town, 35 miles away from Palm Springs. Almost sounded like where you are! When I had a leg injury, making my disabled for two years; my Mom came and brought me to Phoenix. There were no jobs.
I've made my living sewing Bridal Gowns. Since my accident, and now being here caring for my Dad, my hobbies and crafts are my outlet. I started an on-line business. That's something you can do, if you determine your customer base; product. It could be that your story is worthy of publishing, if you think outside the get-a-job box. I'm just trying to give you some ideas. I like the idea FloraSteele gave you of running an errand business.
Perhaps run a transport service, if you have a van with a lift. There is a very large senior polulation in that area. my Aunt lives in an assisted living complex. These people are financially set. There are a lot of opportunities; your experience , age and compassion makes you perfect! Don't worry about the young people, the jobs they can get are low paying entry level. Even professionals are taking lesser work. But I believe you can carve out a niche for yourself. Maybe you are an artist-
if you fill your days with things that are creative and even make some money at it.
Or, like my 78 Y.Old Mom- she bakes cakes for people, and designer cookies.

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