The Psychological Benefits of Caregiving

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Providing the care that your elderly loved one needs is a great service to him or her. Without your help he or she may very well have to go to an assisted living facility or find some other way to get through this time in life. However, when you are providing care for an elderly loved one, one of the beneficiaries is actually you! Here are some benefits that you may derive from the activity of providing care for your elderly loved one.

Avoiding financial stress

While money certainly is not everything, and your decisions when it comes to the well-being of your loved ones should probably not be driven primarily by financial considerations, there is no disputing that having someone else come into your loved one’s home to provide full-time care is very expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. Likewise, the cost of putting your loved one in a long-term care facility can be crippling to a family without significant financial reserves.

 When you are providing care for an elderly loved one, one of the beneficiaries is actually you!

 If you are able to fulfill the necessary role of a caregiver yourself, you can help your family avoid some serious financial strains. This, in turn, has a psychological benefit because it’s one less thing to worry about. Financial pressures are among the leading contributors to the worries that plague families today, and by providing a necessary service yourself, you are able to lessen the financial impact of an elderly loved one’s care.

Helping you cope

Let’s be honest: watching an elderly loved one progress through the final stages of his or her life is a tough thing to do by any measure. It can be quite stressful and troubling to the family of the elderly person, especially if that person used to be very healthy and active and suddenly finds that he or she needs constant care.

By acting in the role of a caregiver you can help yourself cope with these changes. Instead of feeling helpless and wondering if there’s anything you can do, you are able to at least take some matters into your own hands. You can observe as your actions have a direct positive impact on the life of your elderly loved one. For many people, acting as a caregiver helps alleviate the feeling of helplessness that can sometimes come when we watch an elderly loved one struggle through the final stages of life.

Providing an outlet for stress

Further, providing care for an elderly loved one can be a good way to channel the stress that you may be feeling as a result of his condition. Research has shown that people who spend time volunteering actually live longer and more productive lives than those who don’t, possibly because volunteering provides a way to let out stress and feel as if you are having a positive impact on the situation.

Finally, if you are struggling with feelings of grief due to your loved one’s decline, providing care can be a way to distract yourself from that. When you’re filling your day with caregiving activities, it can help you turn your mind to those matters instead of dwelling on sad thoughts. Of course, acting as a caregiver can also alleviate feelings of grief because you can truthfully tell yourself that you did your best to make your loved one’s final months or years as comfortable and happy as possible.

Conclusion

Acting as a caregiver for an elderly loved one has a number of benefits both to the elderly person and to his or her caregivers. From removing a possible source of financial stress to helping you cope with a feeling of helplessness, acting as a caregiver can yield benefits to you and to your family. It can provide you with a channel to release your stress in a constructive way and help you deal with any feelings of grief or anxiety you may have about the future.

 

Sources

Templeman, Terrel. The Benefits of Caregiving. Available at http://www.pendletonpsych.com/whats-new/caregivers. Last visited November 19, 2015.

Northouse, Laurel et al. The Impact of Caregiving on the Psychological Well-Being of Family Caregivers and Cancer Patients. Available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749208112000575. Last visited November 19, 2015.