We often talk about how difficult caregiving is, and we are all too aware of all the personal sacrifices that caregivers make to care for their loved one. While caregiving is undeniably a challenging role, it can be extremely beneficial for the caregiver.
On the whole, caregivers are balanced, considerate and thoughtful people. In some cases, these behaviours are learned through the role, while for others, it’s these behaviours that motivate them to become a family caregiver. Regardless of how they end up in the role, caregivers often get a lot from it. Caregivers often learn to look at situations from a different perspective, which can help them to focus on the most important things in life.
When things are getting difficult, it is particularly important for caregivers to focus on the following benefits that their role provides.
1. We Become Closer to Friends and Family
While caregiving can sometimes feel lonely, it can also have the opposite effect. Caregiving can bring us closer to those in our lives that we are caring for, as well as other family members and friends who are also helping with caregiving. When we assume the role of a caregiver, many family members and friends will offer their help, or even just their companionship. Those that are helping out practically by carrying out caregiving tasks will be a great support to us in our role. In addition, those who listen when we are down and celebrate with us when things are going well become an essential part of our lives. We often develop a deeper level of trust and warmth with those in our lives that help through the tough times, which strengthens our relationships with them.
2. We Learn New Skills
Learning new skills is part of the caregiving role. Caregivers learn how to coordinate activities of daily living for an elderly person as well as how to provide companionship and emotional support. While family caregivers will often help out with cleaning and running errands, they may also take responsibility for medical aspects of care, such as handling medical appointments, organising medication and checking the blood pressure of the person in their care. They will also learn a lot about the person’s condition. These are lifelong skills that can transfer to other aspects of a caregiver’s life. There are a number of training opportunities available to caregivers, which is particularly helpful for family caregivers who are not formally trained.
3. We Know Our Loved Ones Are Receiving Good Care
If an elderly relative is living in a nursing home, it can make us feel powerless in providing or improving their level of care. No matter how good the employees and the facilities are, it’s natural to worry about those that we love. Not being in control of the care can leave us wondering if there is more that we can do. When we assume responsibility for caregiving, we know that our relative is being well cared for. This can make it easier for us to cope and accept the things that are going on in the lives of our loved one that are not in our control.
4. We Become More Confident in Our Ability to Cope
As a caregiver, we take on a number of different roles. We regularly talk to a range of medical professionals, lawyers and other people and organisations that are associated with our loved one’s care. We also learn how to administer medications and how to best assist an older adult in their daily routine. With caregiving, no two days are ever the same. There is a lot of unpredictability and uncertainty in a caregiving role, and we often have to deal with curveballs. This can make us more resilient and able to handle difficulties in all aspect of our lives, such as parenting and at work.
5. We Get a Better Sense of What We Truly Value
When our older relatives become frail or sick, it often makes us realise that one day, our time with them will run out. This can help us to re-evaluate our priorities and focus on what is really important to us. These things that we identify as most important to us typically incorporate our elderly relative and other loved ones, in that we will want to ensure we are spending as much time with them as possible. In some cases, however, it can also encourage us to look at the bigger picture in other aspects of our lives and shape the decisions that we make. For example, many caregivers re-evaluate their full-time work and instead consider looking for a career that is more enjoyable or has more of a positive impact on other people’s lives.
Caregiving is a difficult but rewarding role. Why not try attending a Brain Sparks workshop? This will arm you with advice and practical strategies to help you with some of the responsibilities that you have taken on. For more information on how we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.