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Balancing Caregiving and Friendships

Being a full-time family caregiver is a noble responsibility, but it can impact your social life. When you're constantly attending to your loved one's needs, it's easy to feel isolated. However, maintaining friendships and social connections is crucial for your emotional well-being and mental health.

I'll share and review practical caregiver tips and strategies that helped me strike a balance between my caregiving duties and my social life.

Accept help

Being a caregiver doesn't mean you should do everything alone. Accepting help from family members and friends can lighten your load, allowing you to have some free time to catch up with your friends. During my time as a full-time caregiver for my mom, I became more comfortable with accepting help from others. Despite feeling guilt and a sense of responsibility to care for my mom alone, I realized that allowing others to assist not only relieved some of the burden on me but also allowed them to express their love and support for both me and my mom.

Caregiver tip

Don't hesitate to ask family members and friends for help with caregiving tasks. Writing down the specific tasks will also help with delegating responsibilities and avoid any confusion. This will give you the chance to spend time with your friends without worrying about who is managing a task for your loved one's well-being.

Be honest with your friends

On your caregiver journey, it's important to be honest with your friends and share your experiences and feelings. When I started caregiving in my late 20s, not all my friends understood my choices. However, as I grew older, my new friends became more accepting and supportive. Being open about my struggles created a deeper understanding and support system for both myself and my loved one.

Caregiver tip

Communicate to your friends that you value their friendship, but you have a lot on your plate. Let them know what you need, whether it's someone to listen or help with chores. By sharing what you're going through, they'll gain a better understanding and be more willing to support you in any way possible.

Use technology to your advantage

Social media, emails, and text messaging can help you stay connected with your friends even when you don't have the time for a long conversation. Try scheduling a regular an online chat or using apps to catch up on each other's lives.

I loved using technology to connect with my friends! Scheduling virtual game nights, my favorite being online chess, became a great outlet for me to step away from my caregiving responsibilities and just have fun with my friends. I also enjoyed the convenience it offered me to be able to stay with my loved one while I connected with my friends on my phone.

Caregiver tip

It's important to remember that technology can be a powerful tool for maintaining friendships, especially during challenging times. You can also use group messaging apps to stay in touch with a group of friends at once.

Plan ahead

Schedule outings with your friends in advance. Knowing that you have something to look forward to can boost your mood and help you feel more positive. When I scheduled outings in advance it also gave my respite relief partner (aka my dad) enough time to prepare for my loved one's care. Scheduled outings was a great way for me to balance my responsibilities as a caregiver and maintain my friendships.

Caregiver tip

Make sure to communicate clearly with your respite relief partner about any scheduled outings and provide them with all necessary information to ensure a smooth transition of care and peace of mind.

Find support groups

Caregiver support groups are a great way for connecting with others who are going through similar challenges as you. I found that attending local support group meetings not only provided me with emotional support, but also valuable resources and tips from other caregivers.

These groups provided me with an opportunity to share my experiences, take in advice, and find support with other caregivers. They also offered me a sense of community and alleviated my feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Caregiver tip

If you are unable to attend in-person support groups, consider joining online communities or forums dedicated to caregivers. These can be just as helpful and convenient since you can participate from the comfort of your own home.

Balancing Alzheimer's caregiving and friendships

As a full-time family caregiver, it's important to prioritize self-care and maintain social connections. By communicating openly with friends, seeking assistance, leveraging technology, and planning ahead, you can nurture strong relationships while managing your responsibilities. Remember, taking care of yourself is just as vital as caring for your loved one.

Having a team or network of support in place is so helpful in navigating Alzheimer's and caregiving. Who do you turn to for support? Share in this forum.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AlzheimersDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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