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I am a 56 year old single male. I've been taking care of dad for 5 years. He has dementia. Last Friday he fell and broke his hip. It is very unlikely he will return home. I don't know what to do with myself now. Caring for a loved one with dementia is very socially isolating. I have no life outside of caring for dad. I do have family that are supporting but at the end of the day they go home to their families and I sit and stare at the walls. I do recognize the psychological damage that I have suffered as a result of caring for a 75 year old infant but don't really have a clue as to how to go back to living a "normal" life. Any advice would be appreciated.

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My husband died three weeks ago. I was his caregiver for more than nine years. There is a huge hole in my life now, of course. Financially I have to go back to work soon and in a way I think that will be good for me. It will fill up the hole, at least in terms of time and I expect it will also help in establishing new relationships and presenting new challenges. (Check back with me in three months and I'll tell you whether that is how it really works out.)

Knimrod, even if your father doesn't come home again some of your time will be taken up advocating for him, visiting him, and still caring for him in some ways. But could you work part time?
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Since finding this site in May/June of this year, I have read thru different threads. I have never really thought of the "END" plan until this site. I've been secondary caregiver (father being primary) for mom since I was 23yrs old - that is about 23 yrs ago. When I read stories of peoples real lives here, I cannot help applying it to me. This has helped me realized that when both parents are no longer here, I will be just as lost (emotionally? psychologically?) as all the other caregivers like you, Knimrod. It's such a scary thought... but all the advice that was given above...was what I, too, came up with! Except, I realized that I don't think I can handle another volunteering which involves caregiving. My parent has sucked most of my patience out of me....but I'm just learning from this site to "separate myself, set up boundaries."

So, Knimrod, I would say put aside Saturdays as a "Me Day." If you have limited funds like me, I would just spend the mornings window shopping (more like people watching) and you get to see the antics of the small children. I have found myself smiling a lot when I pass by young ones (whether throwing a tantrum -and I thank God I'm NOT the parent!...or if they keep bugging the parent to buy this, etc..) Eat lunch at a low budget restaurant...Then for the afternoon, go to a movie matinee...but don't watch anything depressing. Find a movie that has humor in it. Eventually, with the audience laughing, you will find yourself doing so.

As for the rest of the week, use that as a "put me back together so that I can join society" days. Hopefully, other peoples' advice here will give you some idea on how to do that.
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K:

Did you ever leave the nest and lived on your own? If not, that might explain some of the confusion you're going through. While caring for Dad, there was a clear purpose and meaning to your life. Now there's a giant pothole that needs to be filled. Tough task.

Last thing you should be doing is watch TV and raid the fridge every 10 minutes. Medicating yourself with food is never a good idea, as it becomes a fattening addiction that makes you less attractive to women out there who'd like to meet you.

Play bingo at the community center. Go to a pub and ask the bartender / psychologist for tips on successfully rejoining the human race.

Preen & primp; get out of the house. If you don't honk your own horn people won't know you're coming.
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BALLS TO THE WALL - That's how a lot of us feel, and even though family time may be invigorating for a little bit, you are still left with nothing once they go home.

I don't know, but it doesn't sound like to me that you're done with your research yet. What have you done so far in insure your independent life? What did you to get away from him while he was living at home?

If nothing, perhaps looking into some volunteerism. It's not as daunting as having a job and you'll still get around to meet some people again. It can always just be a one time thing too if you realize the thing you volunteered for is not for you.

Doing things by yourself help as well. It could be aaanything. Granted, you've probably lost interest in things you used to like while you were caring for your dad. Or, maybe you just never had time for things you used to like. Maybe compile a list of things that sound interesting to you and give them a try one at a time. Eventually, you probably will come across something that you enjoy [again].
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How about taking a fun adventure vacation. Do something invigorating like a sail ship cruise. Soak up nature and try to heal, because I know how drained your soul must be. You need to fill yourself up. What is /was your favorite thing to do? I love music but when mom was here she didn't like it so I stopped listening. I have to keep reminding myself to turn it on again.
I dont know where you live but when mom went into respite I went to Florida and walked the beach. I did have friends there, but I like my own company and can enjoy alone time too.
Movies are a great distraction, especially on the big screen. I would say get back to nature and soak up the energy. I'm sure you are depleted.
A good book about nature and energy is The Celestine Prophecy. Popular about 10 years ago, but gets you back to enjoying nature. Take care of yourself and spoil yourself.
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pied for a while. Have you kept in touch with anyone? (Or have they kept in touch with you may be a better question!) Perhaps you can start with a phone call/text message/e-mail to one or two of your old friends. Tell them your Dad is in the hospital/rehab and you have some free time, are they available to meet up?

Did you stop working to care for your Dad? Would you consider a part time job to get you back into the socialization game? How about volunteering for a non profit on an ad hoc basis? All of these will take some time without swallowing you up 24/7. Keep us posted.
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