How is your social life impacted by caregiving?

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I see a major decline in my social life. I'm finding it's harder and harder to relate to folks who do not have this care in their life. Some friends have stayed away and others, even though they mean well, say things like stay away and don't do as much for mother, but there's no one else to pick up the pieces for sure. They see what it's doing, and make judgements, but no one is really stepping in to help because it's too much. It's sad, isn't it, how it affects every aspect of life.

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I hear you and feel your pain. You are not going to be able to live like this for a long period of time. We humans are social creatures and it's really important that you set some new ways of doing things in motion. You can't do this alone because you will begin to resent not only your mother, but your friends as well. I always recommend that you sit down and map out your social network; from family members to friends to religious community (if you have one), to friends of your mother's...anyone and everyone. And then map out exactly what help you need. Are there little errands that someone could help you with? Are there things that can be done for her that don't require you to be there? You have to ASK for help. And you have to ask earnestly. I don't know the financial situation that your mom is in, but if she has a little money...maybe you can hire someone to come in and help her and you out a couple of times a week. Does she own her home? If so, you can look into getting a reverse mortgage to help pay for some extra help. It's really about taking a serious look at your life...what works? What doesn't? What do you need help with? How can someone help you? Are you willing to ask for what you need? Most of my clients come to me in the throws of caregiving and are really without hope...but once they begin the process of changing their circumstances around the care required, most of them see that there are things they can let go of in order to enjoy some personal time. It's possible that your friends don't know how to help you....tell them what you need and ask for help. I know right now it seems like there is no way you will ever relate to anyone who is not a caregiver again, but if ask for what you need and not wait for others to will see that your real friends will be there for you. You need to find a way to get out and do things that used to make you happy. That part of you isn't gone. It's just buried somewhere beneath all your feelings of sadness. Who will care for your mother if something happened to you? Family caregiving is like running a business and you have to set up systems that work for not only your mother, but also for you. You matter. Your life matters. Your happiness matters. Caring for another person's life is a beautiful act of humanity, but not if you lose yourself and your life along the way.
We need a big old house with a central meeting room and a different wing for every family. We could take turns watching one anothers people, while the others could have a social life - and of course Warren Buffet would fund it.

Where shall we put it? A central locale like Kansas City or perhaps on the beach somewhere (like Hawaii)? Yum yum roast pork luau and hula lessons. (I'd HAVE to have a pedicure first, and about a year at a fat farm but those are details we could work out).

Ramsay could cook, Martha could decorate, Vera Wang could dress us, Cuz could be our entertainment, and Dr Oz could tend to us and our elders.

Who's with me?

In the Brazilian countryside, we're lucky to have one form of insurance against the trap that caregiving can be: a huge family. Down there, I have 12 half-brothers and sisters. (I'm not going to mention anything about the relatives here in the States, as I might have a psychotic episode. Suffice it to say they're all a mess.) Our elderly are never put away, always have something to do, and the family gathers around the bed when their time comes to slide into another plane of existence. In a nutshell, we take turns at caring for one another and still have time to be the social creatures we're designed to be.

In the US, it's a different ballgame for the most part. Families are smaller; most children are taught to be individuals and keep to themselves yet expected to be social. Here in NYC, everything's so compartmentalized it's so easy to become desensitized to almost everything that goes on around you. At home, people like myself find safety in solitude; inside a rented box that's become a fortified temple of inner healing after spending 1/2 the day hunting for that Almighty Dollar that no one can do without.

Everything has to be paid for; even a social life. Like crackheads that get paranoid after hitting the pipe, the time I spent away from Mom wasn't much fun at all. The cellphone would ring, or I'd be too worried something would happen. Relationships didn't work out because I was too tired to put out ... or stay awake at the dinner table.

For 3 long years, caregiving was my life. Joining a monastery would've been a lot easier. At least I'd have been surrounded by monks quite adept at taking care of themselves and be supportive at the same time.

In caregiving, a social life where you actually find enough quality for yourself is .... an oxymoron? An anachronism? ... Well, you get the point.

Good luck my friend.

-- Ed

Social life? Theres not time or money for a social life. Its Labor Day weekend and I haven't been outside all summer except to run errands.
Me too! Other people my age seem much more carefree than I am - much more able to spend time shopping, going to movies; etc. They have an ability to laugh and joke that I seem to have lost somewhere along the way.
Somtimes it's 'hard to move among them'. I feel waay older than most of my friends.
I don't feel like I can invite people over - it's too weird. I don't know how to fix it.
MsM - Count me in! Social life? The past two years it's been visiting dad's doctors for all of the various reasons. Friends not living the caregiver life have no understanding what it takes to plan and even when you plan, how quickly those plans may need to be changed. It's sad to say but I dream of the day I won't have this responsibility, as much as I know I will miss my dad. It's just so draining physically and emotionally. I also work full time and by the time I get home, I am so spent that I can't even carry on phone conversations with friends. Of course, when I did it used to just depress me more - talking about the new restaurant they went to for a romantic dinner, what movies they've seen recently, their latest exercise classes. On the other hand, I've had so many what I like to call Hallmark caregiver moments that I know I will cherish when dad does pass that I don't regret any of it. This site is MY social life. We dream, we laugh, we support each other - what better friends, what better social life could there be?
You find out your real friends when you are in this situation. We have been slowly "uninvited" by our group and the funny thing is they have already been through this (parents now dead). When this is over, we will opt for the friends who have stood by our side.

I'm with mom 24/7 - afraid to leave the house. Who cares about those fly by night friends....I love my mom.
When I do go to the grocery, I am always talking to everyone....guess I need some adult conservation. My husband is the quiet. type. I've always been a "free spirit" - this is just a calling I'm going through and I will be a better person for knowing I am loving and caring for the person who has loved me the most!
What is a social life? It is doubly hard if you have health problems since what little energy you have is taken up for looking after a household, appointments, etc. I talk to myself a lot. :)
Social life? Hmm, don't even know what that is anymore. The only time I have any social interactions with others is by happenstance, I happen to run into them at the grocery store. I happen to talk to someone at the doctors office, pharmacy, or if someone is coming or going while I'm at home which doesn't happen very often with what's going on around here most of the time. I guess I could say that I'm socializing when talking to others here at this forum, or if my daughter calls me on the phone. I could try to get out of the house and just go walk the mall but the last time I did that, the damage done at home made up for it so I gave that up.
cricket - I know - Oh and I forgot about the full body massages - we have to have those - while we are drinking Margaritas of course nad maybe taking dance lessons from Antonio Banderas? I'll see if I can book him . . . oh oh and we can take captains boat over to Hawaii! What a perfect plan.

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