Researchers have made a pretty cool new discovery about caregiving. Discussions about caregiving often revolve around the negative aspects such as stress, costs, and harm to physical and emotional health. However, research finds that caregiving can be a positive experience and an opportunity for personal growth.
Many caregivers benefit from:
- Personal fulfillment & satisfaction
- Development of new skills
- Closer family relationships
- Greater appreciation of life
Some studies have even found that caregiving is linked to greater longevity and greater physical strength/health. While caregiving has been portrayed as a time of stress, we know that’s not the whole picture. With the right support and the right view, we can begin to see the beauty of the experience.
Caregivers who have a positive view of caregiving have lower depression scores and better health. A positive view of equals less perceived caregiver burden. Fortunately, 83% of caregivers surveyed by the National Opinions Research Center viewed caregiving as a positive experience. And, for others, they can find new ways to tap into this more positive experience of caregiving.
A Caregiving Story: From Negative to Positive
How Caregiving Nearly Destroyed Our Good Parent-Child Relationship
I’ve always gotten along well with my parents and love them deeply. I live about an hour away and as they started getting older, I visited more regularly to check on them. When I wasn’t with them, I spent a lot of time worrying about them. Mom was doing more and more for Dad. She hardly seemed capable of taking care of herself. At one point I found out it was too difficult for him to bathe, so he was just rinsing off a bit and using cologne. But, they refused to talk about it. Dad stubbornly clung to the idea that they were fine and would “never leave” home.
I spent more and more time there doing all the little tasks. They didn’t seem to understand how much time it all took. My sister who lives far away didn’t either. Both she and Dad sometimes made remarks that I was too uptight and controlling. After a few incidents of rushing in to deal with their lack of decisions, I blew up. I gave them an ultimatum. Dad had to go to assisted living. Both Dad and my sister stopped speaking to me. It turned into a nightmare.
The Discovery That Turned Caregiving from Disastrous to Beautiful
I didn’t know that to do anymore. Caregiving was starting to affect my work and relationship with my husband. I took a break and spent many hours looking at resources online. A good friend told me I should talk to EasyLiving.
I scheduled a consultation with a care manager who talked through my situation and reassured me. She arranged and mediated a family caregiving discussion. She offered me suggestions about talking to my family about my concerns in a different way. We came to a compromise and got my parents some help at home.
The whole relationship changed when I wasn’t doing everything myself. I realize I’d come to see my parents as helpless children. I was feeling resentment over little things like doing their laundry when I could barely keep up with my own. I'd never realized there were professionals who could help with this entire journey of caregiving. What a revelation--I only wish I’d known sooner!
What a beautiful discovery to realize that getting help actually meant I could be a better caregiver. My parents got the help they desperately needed and my sister started handling a few of the tasks. We were able to enjoy a parent-child relationship again. I saw caregiving from a new perspective and could honor my parents by making sure they had the best care. Just looking at my parents (and me) you could see a drastic change.
Now that Dad is gone, I am so thankful I did this. I would have hated to miss that time together. It would have been awful to spend that time resenting my parents over the caregiving duties. I learned a lot about myself and got much closer to them. It also caused me to take more initiative with my own health and planning for the future.
Getting Caregiving Help
Don’t wait as long as I did! Now that I’ve let you in on my discovery, seek out resources in your local community. There are professionals who have walked the caregiving path with many families.
Find a home care company like EasyLiving, run by professionals with many years of eldercare experience. Set up a consultation, even if you aren’t sure you need help yet. Caregiving can be a beautiful experience, a chance to give back to the parents who raised you.