Caregiver, Are You Lonely? 3 Keys to Making New Friends

June 10, 2009 at 12:27 am 1 comment

As adults, it’s embarrassing to admit we get lonely. We think that it makes us sound like a 14 year old, but loneliness strikes at any age and at any time of life–and we’re especially vulnerable when we’re caregiving.

Here’s an excerpt I wrote about feeling lonely (from Mothering Mother)

Losing Me and the One Year Mark

I dash out the door, for a quick run to the pharmacy, hit with a crisp November day. It’s clear and bright and there’s a chill in the air. I go back in and grab my blue-jean jacket. I drive through my neighborhood and notice a guy out for a stroll with two dogs, each pulling its leash in different directions. A group of women in polar fleece sleeveless vests push strollers and are walking as fast as they’re talking. I don’t even know them. A group of friends to walk with in my own neighborhood, how nice.

The leaves are cascading down on a stiff breeze, a gust of golden leaves twirls to the ground. It looks as if it’s snowing gold. I clip past house after house, my eyes taking in every change. How long have I been in that house? Suddenly, I wish I could meet a friend for lunch but the last two years have left me little time for chicken salad and chit-chat.

I’ve lost something this last year. I’ve shrunk; I get out less and less and I’ve forgotten how bustling the world is. When I see workmen in vans, telephone installers on the side of the road, or children with their moms in SUVs, I realize that as my mother’s Alzheimer’s increases, I’m fighting a slow sadness. This is a season, I tell myself. It won’t last forever.

***

Friendships are vital. The Today Show featured a segment on best friends today, and they stated that people who enjoy close friendships are healthier and enjoy a greater sense of self-worth. It’s such a source of strength to know you can call up a good friend to vent, to ask make yourself accountable, or for a good belly laugh about something no one else would get.

3 Keys to Making New Friends While Caregiving:

  • Be friendly to your neighbors. I know that most of us barely wave at our neighbors, but why not break the norm and actually knock on their door? You need them, so you need to make the effort. Sure, the first time you  do it you may get a strange look, but people warm up quickly–especially if there are warm cookies involved. (I”m not saying make them from scratch, just pick up some pre-made batter in your dairy case).
  • Join a caregiver’s support group. Who better to understand what you’re going through than a fellow caregiver! Exchange emails or phone numbers, sit next to someone and start up a conversation. Who knows? You might even be able to start your own caregiving co-op and get together with your care buddies. (Kind of like a play-date that kids have)
  • Who needs new friends? Call up an old one. Reconnect. Join Classmates.com or Facebookand look up some old high school or college buddies. It can actually be fun to reconnect, compare then and now pics, catch up and who married who—and since it’s online. It doesn’t take the effort to get dressed and leave the house but you still get the benefits of connection.

Yes, at times caregiving can get a bit lonely, but I found that my friends–old and new–really do care about me and their love and support brightens even the toughest days.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ann Blanchard  |  July 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    As a caregiver, I have been much more isolated. I have met new friends through both Meetup.com and through Craig’s List. You just have to look for people and groups who share your interests. Since I have my own business (www.handirecords.com), I don’t see people “at work” every day and it’s harder to keep up with old friends from the past. But I look on it as an adventure and am always looking for new friends to share my path.

    Reply

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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