The study of the positive aspects of caregiving has received little attention. What has become apparent, is that being able to find and focus on the positive aspects of caregiving has important outcomes including reducing caregiving stress, improving emotional status, and possibly reducing the likelihood of institutionalization.
In my years of nursing and supporting caregivers, time and again I've seen the high expectations we have for ourselves. Caring for someone who has health challenges or is facing a tough diagnosis can cause so much pressure on a daily basis. Worries, decisions, coordinating care and conflicting responsibilities can make caregivers feel overwhelmed.
When Carol and Theresa's mom was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's and their dad's vision started failing, the news was met with some denial -- and their parents' groaning aversion to leaving their home of over forty years. The sisters, one of whom is my mother-in-law, came to realize that they are now parenting their own parents. In coming to terms with this they also realized that they each need support too. The result is an inspiring and positive arrangement. They've become "co-caregivers."
Helping an elderly parent with bathing, can come with some fear or embarrassment for both of you. You want to maintain the person's privacy, dignity and independence as much as possible. It might take longer than it used to for the person to do something for themselves, but the benefits far outweigh the extra time.
Being a family caregiver, caring for an aging parent, is a tough assignment. It is one that many baby boomers are just beginning to encounter. Here are some suggestions for making a welcome difference in the lives of friends like these based on using your common sense with respect to your friend's needs and your own availability.
I can definitely attest to the many challenges and obstacles that family caregivers contend with on a daily basis. A study by the Change Foundation, 22 per cent of caregivers showed signs of distress, including anger, depression, being overwhelmed and unable to continue providing care. But through it all, you'll also have your eyes and heart opened in amazing ways.