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Caregiving and Friendships

Caregiving and Friendships

Caregiving and Friendships

Many people who begin their caregiving journey experience an unfortunate reality: friendships and other relationships fall by the wayside. If you are a family caregiver, then you may have experienced this: You get so wrapped up in your new set of responsibilities that the friends you used to see and speak with are no longer around. And, this is not necessarily your fault. Sometimes, friends will make promises to be there and support you initially, but then they begin to disappear or become more and more distant.[1] Other times, you, as the family caregiver, can become so busy that you forget or do not have time to nurture friendships because all of your energy is being spent caring for your loved one.

Below, we will share some tips on how you can maintain friendships and move one from lost friends through effective communication and coping strategies.

  • Communicate: When you begin to realize that you are taking on the responsibility of a family caregiver, it is crucial to let others know about these new demands you are taking on. The key here is to be very honest about how you feel to a friend, how you think this may impact your friendship with them, and politely asking if they would be willing to help. It is a good idea to be direct with them, and to let them know that it is okay for them to be direct with you. You want to know early on who you will be able to depend on and who you can ask for help. If a friend is not willing to help out that much, they may have a lot going on in their life, as well. The key to any relationship is communication, honesty, and understanding.
  • Prioritize social time: Your true friends will stick by your side, even if some of them can’t help with caregiving duties as often as you would like. Sometimes, those who can’t help results from distance, they may not live close to you. Regardless, if you regularly talk with your friends or if they make visits to see you, do not cancel on them. Socializing is not only great for your physical and emotional health, but friendships can help you move through difficult moments in your life as to not be consumed by overwhelming stressors. Plus, caregiving can be an isolating experience, so seeing friends helps change that.[2] Lastly, remind yourself that you are not “abandoning” your loved one if you miss a meal with them to go see a friend.[3] Friendships are necessary for continued happiness and support.
  • If friends leave, it is okay to be upset[4]: Unfortunately, some friends who promised that they will be there with you may turn out to be unreliable. This is unfortunate, but it is also a reality. It is okay to be sad. If you ever do talk to this friend in the future, it is okay to be honest with them about how they made you feel and to express these thoughts calmly with the intent on having a rational conversation. Maybe, just maybe, one day they may return to help. Rather than being spiteful and rejecting this apologetic return, forgive your friend and understand that nobody is perfect. Forgiveness can save you a lot of unnecessary stress caused by frustration, distrust, and anger. Holding grudges never solves a problem, only communication, understanding, and setting out a new plan moving forward.

If you have any more questions, feel free to call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.

[1] Source: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/fix-broken-friendships-bjj.html
[2] Source: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-2014/caregiving-isolation-friendship-stress-jacobs.html
[3] Source: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/when-caregiving-starts-friends-scatter-154250.htm
[4] Source: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/fix-broken-friendships-bjj.html

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