Whether you are a professional caregiver of looking after a loved one, caregiving can be physically and mentally strenuous. Home caregiving comes with a lot of responsibility and can become quite stressful or emotionally challenging at times. However, that doesn't mean that the experience can't be positive.
Caregivers can experience satisfaction and growth while also feeling challenged by the tougher aspects of their role. According to the National Opinion Research Center (2014), 83% of caregivers view their work as a positive experience. It’s no surprise that people are willing to do hard work if they find it rewarding enough, so here are the best things about being a home caregiver:
Caregiving keeps you active and on your feet. To some, this might not be perceived as a benefit, but it is: exercise is scientifically proven to improve your physical and cognitive health. In another study that observed the physical ability of 900 women, caregivers maintained stronger physical performance than non-caregivers. The same researchers also found that caregivers had better cognitive abilities and memory performance than non-caregivers. Staying active is incredibly important as modern living has removed most forms of daily exercise from our lives. Therefore, caregiving can make you a stronger and healthier person.
Research has shown that although caregivers are generally more stressed than non-caregivers, they end up living longer. However, caregivers that experienced significantly higher levels of stress did not live as long as caregivers that were less stressed. This perhaps means that caregivers should take appropriate measures to improve their perceived stress, varying caregiving-related stress, and corresponding self-care efforts. For example, at Alegre Home Care, we have measures in place to ensure that all of our home caregivers always feel supported.
Strengthening Your Mind
Helping someone with their daily activities requires you to be very thoughtful and organized since you have to juggle various tasks, monitor medications, coordinate schedules, and stay keen to their emotional and physical needs. Research has also shown that caregivers maintain better thought-processing and memory as they age.
People are often unaware of the daily challenges of home caregiving, but the work allows for ongoing personal growth and regularly offers new perspectives on life. Sometimes caregivers have to think on their feet and respond to complex situations. Being a caregiver makes you’re good at coping with stressful circumstances and situations.
Helping Seniors Maintain Dignity
Home caregiving helps foster a sense of independence for seniors, as the help they receive becomes a part of their daily routine and lifestyle at home. Providing seniors with help for tasks they cannot achieve on their own, means they can put their energy into the things they can still do and enjoy. Living at home generally makes seniors feel thankful for the level of independence they still have.
Making A Difference
Nothing is meaningless when you're a caregiver. Big or small, every task is important to the person you’re taking care of. No matter what, you get to make a real difference in this person's daily life and improve their overall well-being. This sense of accomplishment can be very rewarding and helps shape a positive coping mechanism for when you're feeling particularly challenged by the job. Knowing that you make a difference gives you a greater sense of purpose and deeper life meaning.
Enjoying a Meaningful Life
Being a caregiver can help you grow confidence in your own abilities, feel connected to a deeper sense of purpose, and develop a more holistic perspective on life. You may feel a profound sense of gratitude for your own life or hold the belief that you have a gift to share with others.
Home caregiving can be particularly rewarding because the relationships that you develop are long-term and meaningful. Being a caregiver doesn't just mean doing chores, it's also about bringing joy to someone's life. When you help someone else feel good, it makes you feel good, too. Studies have even shown that helping others releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel happier.
Being a caregiver gives you a variety of skills that helps you build better relationships with others. When you’re good at taking care of others, it usually means you are a good communicator, that you’re patient and understanding, and that you are committed and dependable. Home caregivers also have special insight that can help foster better relationships between the person they are caring for and other people in their lives.
When the person you’re caring for feels happy, you feel happy. Caregivers get the opportunity to share special moments with seniors that others miss out on because they don’t share the same relationship. For example, dementia patients may share special memories or glimpses into their colorful past. In general, caregivers have a unique ability to connect with the people they are caring for.
Being a caregiver helps you practise staying positive and optimistic in the face of hardship. In fact, studies show that caregivers who perceive more benefits from caregiving report lower levels of depression. Being positive and optimistic also makes you a better caregiver!
As you can see, there are many positive aspects of helping others that can help caregivers overcome the negative effects of stress related to the work. However, caregiving can take a toll on your well-being if you don't take proper care of yourself, take time to recharge, or have the right attitude. If you are struggling to discover the best things about being a caregiver, we hope this article can give you insight on how to find your purpose.
Interested in the home caregiving programs we have at Alegre Home Care? Please browse our website or contact us with any questions!