Caregiver Confessions: When You Don't See Friends Much Any More

Firsthand advice from a caregiver who's been there

Caregiving can be socially isolating. Friends may not be able to relate to your new demands, and they start calling less often. Caregivers often feel too tired or depressed to make plans with their old circle. Net result: a sense of loneliness that's not healthy -- or fun.

"Sometimes friends drop you when you're a caregiver, and that's OK," says TV-radio commentator Leeza Gibbons, founder of the Leeza's Place communities for caregivers. "Not all of them will be able to make this caregiving journey with you -- but your solid friendships can still be there for you."

Watch Leeza's advice on coping with caregiver isolation.

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More tips on how not to be left out of your own social life:

Realize that some friends don't know how to relate to you now. They may miss your companionship but feel uncertain how to proceed. They may wonder things like, "Will you still want to laugh and have fun? Do you have time? What should I say?" Take the initiative and let close friends know that you need them more than ever.

Make a "listening deal" with a friend or two. Caregivers need emotional outlets. Let close friends know that you'd love for them just to be available to listen to you vent. They don't need to say or do anything. They just need to be there.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

Force yourself to bust out of caregiving at least once a week (or more). You may indeed not feel like socializing, but simply being around others can be an important buffer against depression, a condition caregivers are at elevated risk for. Seeing a movie, having lunch, or taking a walk with a companion is a simple way to shed stress and boost your mood. Socializing even helps save your memory, research shows.

See also:

When You're Feeling Guilt

When You Don't Feel Appreciated

When You're Sleeping Poorly

When You're in Over Your Head

When You Lose Your Temper

Family Is Being Torn Apart

When You're Just Not Eating Right

When You Rarely See Friends

When You Resent Being a Caregiver

When No One Will Help

Feeling Anticipatory Grief

After Caregiving Ends

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

about 3 years, said...

As a young man with older parents, I fully understand this. When my mother first took ill and then passed away last decade (I had to leave my career and grad school at 23, she died when I was 25), most of my friends – unable to process my eldercare or dealing yet with death – scattered. As my father has dealt with multiple surgeries and progressive infirmity since (I'm 35 now), those left or returning have inched back away as I've had to cancel plans and even my brothers have abandoned me – and my father – lest they have to join in. I only actual socialized with friends twice in 2014, stepping out for two afternoons for children's birthday parties, plus grabbing a few bites to eat here and there when my twin brother (who honestly should be in my life but really isn't since I took over as a caretaker, despite living only 45 minutes away) has come to visit for holidays. Of course, any attempt to go to support groups just gets me a stink eye because I'm a young single man rather than a middle-aged married woman... – Brian

about 6 years, said...

I will need to be reminded of this daily. I am on a downward spiral of alienating myself due to worrying about my Mother all the time. Great post!

over 6 years, said...

Hi LEENY, Thank you for sharing about the caregiving challenges you're facing. Sorry to hear that this time of year brings the blues for you. I'd like to suggest a few resources that you may find helpful: 1.) offers free online support groups for caregivers whose loved ones have Alzheimer's or dementia: 2.) We also have information about how to address caregiver burnout: 3.) Consider (if you haven't already) getting some in-home respite care so you can take a break occasionally: Also, if you need to speak to someone right away, the Alzheimer's Association has a 24/7 Helpline you can call: 1.800.272.3900 More info is here:[].

over 6 years, said...

leeny from miami, i hope you are having better days. I sat down with mom and wrote an obit in her story not ours. I also sent out a letter of help, letting people know my needs. I am working on the celebration of life booklet all positive and "her" i had her geneology done. i have picures to put in hard cover album. i am going to have care givers help with holiday activities. hope this helps linda from beaverton oregon

over 6 years, said...

I find myself with more stress and some depression at this time of the year . I feel I have not one person who cares about my feelings . I have been cryng alot alone , this wasnt me 2 years ago . Who am I know ??

over 6 years, said...

thank you Linda for some support . I , also have stenosis and had 3 surg.'s in the past 5 years .

over 6 years, said...

I know it has been awhile my caring friends. This article gave me a lot of help. Since I have reached out it has helped. People do want to help. we set a plan and have a team started. I feel grief now with the disorder and what it has done. Mom has good physical health so do not know when end will come. I have sciatica and may face surgery, another dimension to deal with. But I have faith my faith will get me through. Happy holidays everyone.

over 6 years, said...

That sounds like a wonderful idea. We live in Chicago and are blessed to have a wonderful, supportive senior care program through the Illinois Department on Aging. My mom attends Adult Day Care several days a week. There they have interactive, creative and engaging activities for our love ones; this includes outings several times a month. My mom actually looks forward to going...most of the time. Although I still could use more "me" time, the 6 hour break 4 times a week really helps. I don't know what I would do without it.

over 6 years, said...

This has been a very useful tool for me . Friends , they seem to dissappear as well as family when we , the caretaker do not have all the time in the world . We need more support groups from the internal organization of caregiving . Sometime just make a plan to have lunch and diner with someone who understands our needs and is willing to listen . Many more of could help each other if we The People started our own groups or even a mimi vacaton . A little rest will go a long way

over 6 years, said...

I may have given the wrong impression where I am by my name , I in Miami beach for anyone interested

over 6 years, said...

This was extrememly helpful . I am worn out depressed , do not sleep well . I realy love my mother and being a registered nurse there is NO way I will put her in a nursing home . My family does not even call on a regular basis to me to see how I am doing . That is one problem I can not change them. My son wants nothing to do with it at all . I am trying to make of movie of all her memmat , then she gets upset I do not spend every moment with her . I get tried , I cook , grocery shop , take her to many doctor appointments and I do loose my temper and get angry at myself . I would love to find a group of people where we could meet at least once a week . My home is open . How could go about forming a group of other women and men of my age bracket doing the same thing and have some friends who understand and care as I do ? t Thank You for your wisdom . I need all the help I can get . I am in the Medical field and care , perhaps to much for the elderly . I would love to open a Center for them to just listen to music , talk , and have lunch together . If I could afford to do it alone I would . Perhaps take a small group with enough people to watch over them even if they go one time a month with little money . Which I hope the family's would trust us with . One time a month to a senior show , even if they do not remember they are enjoying their time for the moment . Bingo Game day , If i could give each person 1 dollar and play penny's with help of volunteers we could have game day ,there is a beauty practice school , I would love to be able to have a place where I can get some young girls and men to donate time to do nails or hair , or help someone shave . Even my mother likes to play and I mean play with make-up , A Girls Day . Funding is the problem , not getting schedules to have different activities and people to donate time . Would the goverment help ? I really do not think so in this desperate times . I feel much better now just coming up with ideas for the patients with Alzheimer's . My mom is 83 yr. old and has moderate Alzheimer's , She would enjoy it and I enjoy making people feel worthy and good about themselfs in any way shape or form . I could even have an easy day of light easy exercise . If I could , I would in every state they would need a few for these people . That is what would make me proud and happy in this world .