Most of what we hear about caring for the elderly tends to be negative. Caregivers are often overworked and stressed out, and many lack help from the rest of the family. But there can be many positives involved with being the family caregiver, like an increased level of confidence and even physical health benefits.
Caring for the Elderly: Connecting on a Deeper Level With a Loved One
Caregiving changes the relationship you had with a loved one, but that doesn't mean it all has to be negative. Sometimes, you can connect on a deeper emotional level than when you were just "child and parent."
There is something about the physical aspects of taking care of someone that offers a chance for intimate conversation and sharing of feelings. Your loved one may open up more, and share their fears or hopes. This is especially true if there was just superficial conversation between the two of you previously. Many caregivers report that they feel more comfortable talking about their childhoods. Things like brushing an elderly parent's hair, for example, may call up a time when they did the same for you.
Financial Assistance When You Care for the Elderly at Home
Caregivers often worry about monetary concerns, but there is assistance available depending on your situation. If you're a certified home care provider, for example, you may be eligible for government assistance, insurance, or other state benefits.
In addition, many communities offer help in the form of home social worker visits or noon hot lunch delivery. These can help ease the burden of healthcare or grocery costs.
Physical Health Benefits With Caregiving
Caregiving may even provide physical health benefits. One study suggests that caregivers had "lower mortality rates on average" than non-caregivers, and were "more physically fit" with things like "walking pace and grip," especially if the level of care was intense.
While more studies are needed to reach a definitive conclusion, it makes sense that if you're physically bathing or moving your loved one, you need to be in better physical health. This can encourage you to take good care of yourself, if not for you than for your loved one.
A Positive Example for Your Children
If you have children, they'll be able to see the love and care you provide your mom or dad, and this makes a positive impact on their emotional intelligence. They are more likely to pass along the lesson that older people are cherished and valued when they see the positive care you provide.
What's more, caregiving then becomes a family activity, which helps you each to relate to each other in more positive way.
Increased Personal Satisfaction
Let's not forget that when you're first tasked with caring for a loved one, it can seem overwhelming. It may even make you believe that you won't be able to do it. Over time, caregiving builds your confidence in areas like leadership and decision making. You'll need to keep family members informed, talk to medical health professionals on behalf of your loved one, and make decisions that you feel are best.
If you've never taken a role like caregiving on before, it can give you a new sense of self and accomplishment.
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