Positive Aspects of Caregiving

Loving caregiverA recent survey by the National Opinion Research Center (2014) found that 83 percent of caregivers viewed it as being a positive experience. Many family caregivers report positive experiences from caregiving, including 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. Some caregivers feel that they are passing on a tradition of care and that by modeling caregiving, their children will be more likely care for them if necessary.

Many caregivers also report that they find benefits in their role and activities. This is increasingly seen as a positive form of coping with stressful circumstances and situations. Benefit-finding may be a product of the ability to find meaning through positive reappraisals, spiritual beliefs or other adaptive coping mechanisms in the face of stress. Caregivers who perceive more benefits from caregiving report lower levels of depression (Haley, et al, 2003). This sense of satisfaction and well-being can have important benefits for caregivers well after caregiving has ended.

Many caregivers experience both positive experiences and some strain simultaneously (Beach et al., 2000; Harmell et al., 2012). Lawton and colleagues’ (1991) two-factor model suggests that caregivers may experience both emotional distress and psychological satisfaction and growth, effects that are not incompatible.

References

Beach, S. R., Schulz, R., Yee, J. L., & Jackson, S. (2000). Negative and positive health effects of caring for a disabled spouse: Longitudinal findings from the Caregiver Health Effects Study. Psychology & Aging, 15(2), 259-271. doi:10.1037//0882-7974.15.2.259

Haley, W. E., LaMonde, L. A., Han, B., Burton, A. M., Schonwetter, R. (2003). Predictors of depression and life satisfaction among spousal caregivers in hospice: Application of a stress process model. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 6,215-224.

Harmell, A. L., Chattillion, E. A., Roepke, S. K., & Mausbach, B. T. (2011). A review of the psychobiology of dementia caregiving: A focus on resilience factors. Current Psychiatry Reports, 13(3), 219-224. doi:10.1007/s11920-011-0187-1 

National Opinion Research Center. (2014, May). Long term care in America: Expectations and realities. Retrieved from http://www.longtermcarepoll.org/PDFs/LTC%202014/AP-NORC-Long-Term%20Care%20in%20America_FINAL%20WEB.pdf