Critter Corner: I Am A Caregiver Whose Friends Are Deserting Me!

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Dear Angel,

My mother needs full-time care, so I quit my job and moved in with her. Before doing so, I had a core group of friends that I went to lunch with, to the movies etc. Now, they are not including me anymore. And, it seems they feel uncomfortable coming to mom’s house. What do you think I should do?

Thanks!

Missy Mai-Frenz

Dear Missy,

While caregiving has many gratifying moments, it’s also intense, tiring, and worrisome. The feeling of being on call 24-hours-a-day can take a toll on anyone, and in many instances, long-standing traditions with friends coming for dinner or going out to the movies often go by the wayside.

So, what can you do to keep those friendships that you need more than ever during this time in your life?

• Ask a family member to handle a few of your eldercare duties, so you can plan lunch with friends.

• Make more of an effort to keep up with friends through phone calls or coffee, even if you can’t spend a lot of time with them.

• Remain capable of holding a conversation that doesn’t include caregiving. To do so, make an effort to follow the news, both national and local, so that you have some subjects that you can discuss other than caregiving and your burnout.

• Try to maintain at least one hobby. For example, if you read books or quilt, continue doing so and discuss it with like-minded friends.

• Make an effort to keep eldercare talk as brief as possible when you are with non-caregivers. Answer polite questions with quick, to-the-point answers, then move to a topic that really interests your friends.

For most of us involved with around-the-clock caregiving, it’s not likely that we can keep up a roaring social life. But, for your own wellbeing, you should do at least minimal upkeep on outside friendships. The day will likely come when our caregiving ends, and we will need our friends more than ever at that time. So, take an interest in what your friends are doing, and try to maintain your friendships as best as you can.

Hope this helps!

Purrs and kisses,
Angel

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