As caregivers, emotional energy is in short supply. At the same time there are many friends who love us and want to help. Some of them help in good ways, and others, not so much. Before it gets bad, here are some lessons I learned.
- From the beginning you will need to set boundaries with people. If there is interference with health care decisions or lack of boundaries in any way, gently and lovingly draw the line. If you don’t you will pay for it later. Big time.
- Don’t assume that your best friend or the friend of the family is the ideal help. Sometimes they are and sometimes they are not. Sometimes best friends feel more free to interfere with healthcare decisions. Know your friends and if they are good friends, they will respect when you need some space. Also be careful not to rely on your best friends too much in a way that they feel burnt.
- For those who want to help, oftentimes they just need practical direction. See Dear Friend of a Caregiver.
- Recognize that some friends will not get the same amount of time as before. It’s not intentional, it’s necessary survival. Your friend probably won’t understand but energy for the long-haul is everything. Communicate with them and let them know you still value them, but you are in a season to commit to your loved one.
Personally I feel like dealing with some outside of the family has been one of THE hardest aspects of caregiving. I made the mistake of not setting boundaries early enough, not communicating well enough, not stopping problems before they turned into mountains. Hope you don’t make the same mistake.