Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Caregiver Friendships - Evolving or Disappearing?

Simple fact:  caregiving is not an easy task.  It changes you and your previous life.

Many friends may love you, but they may be afraid of being put in the same role, so they now dodge you.  Their avoidance may be amplified because they find great difficulty in accepting what has happened to you and your family.  In others, the illness or injury may be painful to see. Not everyone has the same emotional maturity.

The best may also be brought out when you need it the most.  The friends who call, provide help unasked, and just listen when you need it are priceless.  When friends find the changes in you and your family member too hard to accept, those friends may fade away.  Try hard not to judge them, but instead appreciate those that remain true friends, especially as they support you when you are nearly out of patience and hope.

Support from others that understand your daily life can sustain you. Those friends are to be cherished and it's important to support them in reverse. That's a balanced friendship.  You may also find it wise to renew older friendships with those who are not caregivers, but who know YOU, and will listen, not judging you on hard days.  Judgment can wear down the strongest caregiver.
Be wise in who you surround yourself with, and approach new friendships slowly to discover the trust level possible. We are not suggesting wariness of new people, but we've all had the experience of being used by others and it doesn't feel good.  Betrayals by those we've let become close can cut deeply, and you want to avoid that as much as possible.

Assess yourself when you're with someone. Do you feel an energy or psychological boost when together or after a visit?  Do you feel uplifted or calmer?  Those are good friends!  Add people to your life that inflate you and who give you oomph and confidence. Minimize contact with those that diminish you. Reduce the drama; it's usually not worth it.  

There will always be both kinds of friends in the world, and seek support from good friends as they will grow with you.

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team 

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