When you have other responsibilities-that would be work, boomerang or younger kids, grandkids, your own life-the significant time investment of caregiving can wring out every bit of desire, you have. Who even has time to think about dating?
With better medicine and longevity, elder caregiving can go on for years. (I'm into my 12th straight year as a long-distance caregiver.)
Of course, the logistics can seem exhausting: finding someone you want to date; becoming prepared (get over the guilt of doing something for yourself, dealing with what to wear, what to talk about); and, how to have your parent(s) cared for in your absence (should it be a professional, another family member?)
Here are six strategies that work whether you're looking for love or just need a break and are perfectly happy solo:
- Find a support group of caregivers of aging parents (online, via telephone, or in person). What are some successful approaches these daters have used? What hasn't worked? Who knows, you may even meet your next beau or suitor through one of these groups!
- If your parent is cognitively capable, let them know you need some personal time. Reassure them that you will still take care of them, but may be getting more support. With dementia and Alzheimer's, try to keep their routine the same and their set-up familiar.
- Get them involved in "non-you" activities in the community so they have as full a life as possible and are not totally dependent on you.
- Once you've met someone you expect to stick around-and not a transitory date-you'll want to introduce him or her to your parents. (Remember when we did the same with our boyfriends, girlfriends, and exes?)
- If your parent has dementia or another disease, get your new partner up to speed. Show them a disease-specific website or give them information on the condition before meeting Mom and Dad.
- Caregiving is a big part of your life now. If your partner seems unsympathetic or is unsupportive of your role, he or she is not a keeper.
Take a look at a new guide to caregiving and dating, aptly entitled " When your Only Date is Mom," written by Kelly Scott of Emeritus Senior Living,
What have you found works best for you when it comes to dating? Or, what is keeping you from dating?