No doubt about it, caregiving can be challenging. Often, we focus on those challenges and the strain that comes with being a caregiver. However, caregiving also offers the caregiver and care recipient a great gift.
This is true for both family caregivers and professional caregivers. For a bit of caregiving inspiration, check out some EasyLiving caregivers sharing why they love about their work and what they've learned from their elder clients.
Here are some of the positive findings about the benefits of caregiving:
- 83% of caregivers viewed caregiving as a positive experience. (National Opinion Research Center poll, 2014)
- Benefits cited include a sense of giving back to someone who has cared for them, the satisfaction of knowing that their loved one is getting excellent care, personal growth and increased meaning and purpose in one’s life.
- Other benefits include refocusing on the important things, a sense of accomplishment, developing greater empathy and connections, and developing new skills.
Finding such benefits in the role can be seen as a positive form of coping with what can be stressful circumstances. Caregivers who perceive more benefits report lower levels of depression (Haley, et al, 2003). And, perhaps most importantly, this sense of satisfaction can have important benefits for caregivers well after their caregiving experience. Thus, through the challenges, many caregivers walk away with the valuable gift of personal growth.
Being a Caregiver Isn’t All Roses
Many caregivers have both positive experiences and some strain simultaneously (Beach et al., 2000; Harmell et al., 2012). It is common to experience both emotional distress and psychological satisfaction and growth, effects that are not incompatible. And, we know that many caregivers experience serious stress and depression.
How to Get the Gifts of Being a Caregiver, How to Overcome the Challenges
So, how can you reduce the anxiety and difficulties that come with being a caregiver and reap the gifts? The most important thing is not to do it alone. One lesson many get from caregiving is the sense of interdependence and connection. We come to see how our loved ones need us and we get meaning from caring for them. But, too often, we don’t take that lesson to heart when it comes to ourselves. Caregiving can be an opportunity to learn when you need help and how to ask for it. Collaborating with others and trusting them can be a bridge to growth.
At EasyLiving, our entire mission is focused on supporting caregivers. This comes in the form of creating an environment that enables our team members to provide the best service. We build our tools and processes around helping them to be their best. But, it also means that we do what we do to help families. We know it is not just the elder client who needs support, but the family system.
Resources for a Positive Caregiving Experience
One of the best gifts you can give yourself and your loved ones is a care management consultation early in the caregiving process. Don’t wait until you are struggling or your loved one’s in crisis. A consultation empowers you with resources and helps you form a game plan. You then have the comfort of knowing someone you can rely on if problems or questions arise, as they inevitably do being a caregiver.
Respite care is another essential resource. Almost 100% of caregivers agreed respite made them a better caregiver, and nearly 90% stated it enabled them to keep their loved one at home. This further emphasizes that being a caregiver does not mean doing it all alone. And, actually, doing it all alone can be detrimental to your care recipient. Learn more from EasyLiving’s Respite Care 101.
All of the content we create serves to provide education and help for caregivers. We always welcome your feedback on topics you’d like to see covered. Our blog contains a huge catalog of caregiver resources and aging information. You can browse articles, or use the search function. Our team manages a Caregivers Support Facebook group and we welcome you to join us there! We also summarize our recent content and provide the latest caregiver news in our monthly newsletter.