A 2014 study by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC; www.norc.org) found that 83% of family caregivers viewed it as an overall positive experience. Caring for an elderly family member who’s still aging in place at home is rewarding, but there will be days it’s stressful, and physically and emotionally draining. Your health and wellbeing as a caregiver are just as important as those of the senior you’re taking care of. Remaining positive on bad days is not easy, but doing so will benefit you and your loved one in the following ways.
1. Lowers Your Depression Risk
Serving as a family caregiver can sometimes raise your anxiety levels, which, if not checked, can lead to full-blown depression. As a result, caregiver stress can set in, or even caregiver burnout, both of which are fed by negative thoughts. But maintaining a positive attitude no matter what happens can stop this depression-fed cycle from ever getting started. To help stay positive even when you’re feeling a little down, try these approaches:
- Share your feelings with a mentor
- Focus on the good outcomes that your caregiving is providing
- Join a caregiver support group in your community
2. It Makes Your Loved One Feel Better
Positive attitudes are contagious, and nobody likes hanging around a “negative Nellie”. Your senior loved one might be cranky at times, and it could be because they are feeling guilty that you have to care for them. Or, they could be experiencing physical pain, are depressed themselves, or not sleeping well. Many seniors, notably ones with dementia, pick up on negative vibes around them. So, if you’re in a bad mood, or feeling down, they will probably mirror those emotions. Negativity is not good for their health and wellbeing, nor yours. Bringing a positive caregiver attitude with your will make your loved one feel better too!
3. Prolongs Your Life
That’s right, being positive overall has been shown clinically to enhance your quality of life, and actual life expectancy. Even when your loved one’s health continues to decline no matter what you do, stay positive. Remember all the good times that you’ve shared, and use the remaining months or years to create more cherished memories. Staying positive will also reduce stress, and your likelihood to engage in unhealthy, life-shortening behaviors such as:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking alcohol to excess
- Not sleeping well
- Abusing prescription pain pills or illegal drugs
- Not following a healthy diet
4. Improves Your Social Life
Positive people generally have an easier time making friends, interacting with family members, and coexisting with coworkers. As it’s important to maintain a social life outside of caregiving, notably with a spouse, keeping a positive attitude will spill over into your personal life and lead to healthier, more rewarding relationships. People will want to be around you, which will reduce the risk of isolation that sometimes comes with caregiving and notably caregiver fatigue. Studies have found that socializing more also helps:
- Lower your risk of an adverse cardiovascular event, like a heart attack
- Prevent obesity
- Boost your energy level
5. Keeps You Physically and Mentally Fit
Researchers have also determined that caregiving itself, when done with a positive outlook, improves one’s physical fitness and mental acuity when compared to other non-caregivers in the same age group. Caregivers use critical thinking almost every day to juggle medications, get a loved one to appointments on time, and assist them with financial affairs- just to name a few tasks. A positive mindset also helps strengthen your immune system, which wards off illnesses, and leads to better daily critical thinking decisions at home or work.
Positive Senior Caregivers Are Only a Phone Call Away
Even when trying your best to stay positive as a caregiver, there will be days when you need a break to get recharged. When that happens, a reliable respite caregiver from Cranberry Home Care can step in and provide the positive care that your elderly loved one deserves. Our highly-trained and carefully-screened aids gladly perform in-home tasks like light housework, personal hygiene, transportation, meals, grocery shopping, and companionship; all delivered in a flexible package to put your mind at-ease. To learn more about why families in the Middleboro, MA, area are placing their loved ones’ trust in the in-home senior caregiving services at Cranberry Home Care, visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now!