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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?

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Actually I have every afternoon off for 4 hrs. I also have the freedom to email all the time. To be perfectly honest, the last thing I want to do on a social outing is get together with other people and talk about "caregiving", the whole idea of socializing is to get off that subject and talk about other things. I never bring up the subject of caregiving when I meet my friends for lunch. It's not that I don't get out .. I do.. I go out for lunch at least once a week. It's just that my friends don't email me and ask me how I am doing but they are always willing to get together if I initiate a lunch out.
As far as meeting new friends, that is next to impossible when your job is a live-in-caregiver, you have no colleagues. Once I am not doing this anymore I am sure I will have an opportunity to meet some new people but for now that is not an option. I guess I just assumed my friends were thoughtful and considerate like I have always been to them, I have learned that is not the case. Life goes on, but I am glad I have found this forum/message board because it has been helpful for me. Most people on here have a far worse situation than I have. Reading other people's stories puts everything into perspective.
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I don't think your friends are intentionally rude, dismissive or uncaring; everyone just has busy lives and the caregiving role is isolating like no other. Others continue their lives and aren't really insensitive just not "sensitive to what you are going thru day-to-day". If they aren't going through it, they just can't understand; if they are going through it, they may feel they have enough on their plate just managing their own affairs.

They may not invite you out or initiate invitations because they don't want you to feel bad or feel left out when you can't come. I know you'd still like to be invited and make your own decision; but they might not know best way to approach.

I would say, if you have one or two BFFs or former BFFs, then just give them a call or send them a note and tell them exactly how you are feeling "isolated" and that you would really like to get together more often and would they mind giving you a call next time there is a get together. You could also host a small gathering of 2-3 friends one evening for wine and cheese (keep it simple) or over for tea/dessert on a Sunday afternoon to just catch up. Maybe start a book club and meet once a month at your place (especially if you can't get someone to take care of mom so you can go out).

Continue to keep communications open and set up the activity or lunch date as you've been doing.

Lastly, as others have suggested, expand your circle of friends and consider starting a new group where you meet at one another's homes or a diner, McD, etc. one day a month with other caregivers (those actively caring for someone in the home and those with a loved one in AL, memory care, etc.). Consider having everyone bring a small dessert or cookies, tea, candy, etc. to share with the group --light snacks so its not a burden on anyone. Maybe discuss a movie, craft, etc, book, etc.

If you need some names in your community, stop by the local senior center and talk with director to see if she will let you post a list or invitation to others who might want to be part of such a group.
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Kathryn, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your Grateful Game. I'm going to start doing that with my mom on a daily basis. It will be good for both of us. I've read many times about keeping a list, but never thought to do it as a daily exercise with my mom. I'm so sorry your mom can no longer do that with you. Thanks SO much for sharing that idea!
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It is perfectly normal to feel the feelings you have been experiencing. This is a sign that it may be time to look at other options or at least to find a way to get some respite time. When we become resentful it is not healthy for us and it is not healthy for the one we care for. It can be a vicious cycle being resentful then feeling guilty about feeling that way. There are friends in life who come and go. Your friends probably have not had experience with this type of situation. Is there one friend in particular that you feel closer to? If so then talk to her about your feelings making sure she understands that you don't blame her but that you really need some help and support. If these friends do not come through for you after you have let them know your feelings then maybe it is time to find some new friends who can support you in this time of need. It doesn't mean you have to ditch the old ones LOL just add some new ones. Look for caregiver support groups in your area. You may just find some new friends there who can relate to what you are experiencing.
Also start playing what I call The Grateful Game- Every day write down five things that you are grateful for that day. On rough days look back in your journal and you will be reminded of all the good in your life. You can also play it with someone. Until my mother could no longer communicate we used to ask each other every day what we were grateful for. She would tell me her five things and I would tell her mine. It will really help to shift you into a more positive frame of mind.
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macada & others - I don't think your friends are intentionally out to hurt you. What I do think is that some people have a giving personality and other people have a taking personality. If we have cultivated relationships with people who are takers, when we as caregivers can't be giving to them anymore, we are more or less useless to them. Please understand that this is a dynamic these people may not even be aware of. It's a matter of being a character flaw did they can't see or feel their behavior. Just MHO.
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yes i'm going through the same thing I gave up my job and now take care of my blind sister .I too feel sad that everyone is living but me
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I didn't mean I am grateful that people have it worse than I do, I meant I am grateful that I don't have a financial burden. I needed to clarify that.
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Yes Kazzaa, it's strange how people get. I do think sometimes that perhaps they avoid me because being a caregiver may make them have to face their own fears of getting old. I have made the mistake of always being there when my friends have needed me and now they are no where to be found. Once I am no longer caring for my mum, I will try to establish new relationships. I really only need a couple of really good friends. This has definitely been an educational, eye opening experience for me on so many levels. Reading other people's comments and situations has been very helpful for me, there are many people who have it far worse than I do, especially financially. So I am grateful for that.
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Yes its a sad thing, but the other day a friend of mine went out of her way when she saw me and my mum on the street to avoid us?? I was very hurt and have not returned her texts since I no longer consider her a friend we used to meet up every week for lunch and when I told her mum had dementia she seemed to retreat but making it so obvious in the street was very hurtful.
You say dementia and people disappear. If I do bump into her again I will be honest and tell her that Im going through the most difficult time of my life and that what I really need now are my REAL friends around me.
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Not on my question we don't.. sorry. He can start his own question.
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rileyman - Are you a man? Is the client a sweet old lady? Does she want to marry you? How bad is it?

We want to hear all the juicy details!
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Whay should I do if a clint falls for me?
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All good, sound advice. Thank-you!!
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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!
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