At some point, you may become one of the 40 million people in the U.S. providing care for a spouse, parent or other loved one. Children caring for an aging parent report feeling a stronger bond with their parent as well as improved self-esteem. In some cases, the additional time spent with a parent has allowed for old wounds to heal and forgiveness over past issues. For the individual being cared for it allows for individualized attention, shared life experiences and forging a deeper relationship with someone close to them.
Some people might worry that the pressure of their own daily life combined with being a caregiver might shave years off their life. Interestingly this nurturing may actually have the opposite effect and extend their life based on findings from a University of Michigan study and Journal Stroke study. A full 90 percent of those interviewed in the study reported a deeper appreciation of life due to their care giving experience. Many also expressed it helped them develop a more positive attitude towards life.
Whether you take care of a family member or are employed as caregiver, a reported benefit of providing care for another human being is that it can make you feel that your life has taken on deeper meaning. Where some aspects of daily life do not allow for closure, many of the care giving tasks allow people to feel they accomplished something during their day and feel more in control.
On the flip side, there is no denying that being a caregiver of an aging parent while managing your own life will have moments of increased stress and frustration, perhaps leading to exhaustion. Remember – you don’t need to do this alone. Examine the tasks you perform and determine where you may benefit from help with the care. Perhaps you might need help with transportation, groceries or with the physical challenges of caring for an individual that is similar in stature to yourself. Enlist the efforts of another family member, friend or consider hiring an agency like ABC Home Healthcare. We provide in-home care and respite services based on your needs for as little as 1 hour a day*. With in-home care and respite services you can decide how much you need. Home care is based on a weekly schedule where respite care doesn’t necessarily need to follow a set schedule unless you want it to, though it does need to be planned for in advance.
Another consideration for balancing caregiver needs is to utilize out-of-home programs like senior centers, which offer activities, trips, transportation, meals and more; or adult day-care centers which offer more medical assistance versus socialization. Learn more about these opportunities in your community by visiting www.800ageinfo.com.
To be a successful caregiver it is essential that you maintain a healthy lifestyle, have a support network and take time for yourself each day.
Statistics source: AARP