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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
We want to hear all the juicy details!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!