People often talk about caregiving as a negative thing, or a problem. While there are negative effects that can happen to caregivers, there are also positive ones. We will finish by talking about what to watch for as negative consequences, and some of the benefits of caregiving.
Caregiving can have an impact on mental and physical health, especially when the care recipient is very ill or suffers from memory loss, when the caregiver has to handle a job in addition to providing care, when the caregiver is also raising children, or when long-distance caregiving requires long and stressful travel time. Some people have rated their own health as being “fair” or “poor” after becoming a caregiver, having no other physical changes. Many employees who are caregiving begin to use their health benefits more, due to stress and illness related to caregiving.
Other common negative effects of caregiving include:
- Feeling worried
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling exhausted
- Feeling frustrated
- Becoming clinically depressed
- Financial strain also becomes an issue. Caregivers can spend over $3000 each year in out-of-pocket expenses related to income. As mentioned earlier, if a caregiver needs to make changes to work schedules, or leave the workplace all together, this results in fewer monetary resources to work with, which can negative effects in both the caregiver and care recipient.
- Personal and family relationships can also suffer when someone is caregiving. Whether siblings are in disagreement about the best plan to care for Mom, or if a parent has less time to spend with children because of providing care, families can often be in need of services to help them cope with the caregiving situation better. Also, caregivers often do not have time to talk to friends, have time to do an activity that they have always enjoyed, or even go to church. All of these things can lead to “caregiver burnout,” where the caregiver just cannot provide care any longer; or worse, to abuse. While this is rare, it can happen in the most unsuspected families. Helping caregivers and their families find ways to cope with caregiving and find helpful resources not only improves the lives of the caregiver, but also the care recipient, their families, and even the community.
Positive Impacts of Caregiving
There are many wonderful things about being a caregiver as well! Being a caregiver can be a great way to show your family members that you love them, and that you want to help them, as they may have helped you in the past. Caregivers often have a very high sense of accomplishment and self-esteem, knowing that every day that have made a difference in someone’s life that they love. Many develop deep and meaningful relationships to those whom they care for, and sometimes families can be brought closer together when someone is in need of care.