Posted on October 2, 2010 by

Dwindling Social Circle

Every caregiver will experience a dwindling effect on their social life. Through my own school of hard knocks, I can tell you how my telephone practically stopped ringing. I was at the point where I was about to call “Ma Bell” to find out if I was having any technical difficulties.

Friends from the past will eventually stop calling after their invitations to attend gatherings or evenings at the movies have been declined time and time again. Even well meaning people can be put off by the mere fact that you cannot leave your loved one alone. Recently, a woman said to me, “Nobody realizes that sometimes it’s like babysitting a 16-armed octopus. You can’t leave them alone for a single minute.”

The general population has never experienced the 24/7 hardships of caregiving so naturally they have no conception of the amount of sacrifices that must be made.

While taking care of your loved one you simply keep telling yourself that your old friends are just on hold. Well, now that I’m almost closing in on a year’s time since my father’s passing I have discovered that only the most sincere and faithful friendships have survived.

But, on the other hand, there’s an upside regarding the subject of human relationships and that is the befriending of new acquaintances who are fellow caregivers, people who are walking the same path as you. The support and passion of these strong individuals may be more valuable and emboldening then the companions you knew from your past.

This creates another proficient debate on how priceless support groups truly are. I remain amazed at the number of people which still attend the meetings after their loved one’s have perished, staying to help give their fellow caregivers comforting advice they so much need. Some, becoming group leaders themselves. It just goes to prove you never know where this journey of caring will take you.

Social isolation is a high risk factor for developing dementia. This is just one of the reasons for you to remain somewhat socially active. Whether it’s through internet chat rooms or staying in touch with friends on Facebook, phone calls or even the old fashion U.S. Mail, it is vital to have some form of communication with the outside world. When caring for my father, there would be times when I would suddenly realize that I hadn’t left the property in a three week period. A trip to the barber shop not only becomes a blessing but a major social event.     Learn to cherish the one’s that lend you an ear, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. Keep an open mind to the unforeseen new friendships you may encounter. There is something special about socializing with a colleague that is in the same boat as you. Try not to worry about the friends that have slowly slipped away. This demanding journey of caregiving may guide your life into a totally different direction.

There are many favorable sides of caregiving and the support and love from new friends is one of them.

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  • Carol Wright said:

    "Right you are. 8.5 years and counting. I think I had one offer of a date, like perhaps..that was maybe six years ago. What was the question again? Anyway, I cannot imagine what this gig would have been like without the internet. Facebook has been the most valuable, connecting with REAL friends from the past, and also Alzheimer's caregivers and various groups. Also, someone pretty darned impressive discovered my blog, which I hope is listed in this, and ordered me to write a book. So she yanked my brain back into working order instantly. I was still alive, even after years of conversation with a blithering...fill in the blank... Oh, I didn't have a dwindling social circle. My strong 18-year community, where it took an hour or more to get out of the post office cause a new conversation walked in as you were trying to leave...I left it all yanked out by the roots still living. Just like that. I could not get a decent conversation going here ...and really still can't. And Here is Mtn. View, CA...and I am in the center of Cisco, Nasa, google and entrepreneur brainiacs. I live like I'm invisible almost. Come back to my computer to find my friends. Oh, relatives with exception of two nieces, both live far away, all ran for the hills. I purposefully created community from familiar cafes, the hair salon, etc. I hand out biz cards in the supermarket that have a foto of Mom in the electric cart. It reads "Make My Mom's Day. Wave and Throw Kisses." and people do. It's like living in a parallel universe, almost.".

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