Five Reasons It’s Great to Be a Caregiver
As we get closer to a new year, it’s natural to take a retrospective look at the events of the prior 12 months. For caregivers busy providing care and love, it’s even more important to reflect on why it is, in fact, great to be a caregiver. Here, five reasons for you to relish…1. You have the opportunity to learn more about your family’s history and get closer to your loved one in their final years.
Many caregivers report being closer to their mother or father (or grandparent) than they ever thought they would be. There is something about the role reversal and vulnerability that encourages emotional openness.
If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, make the most of moments of lucidity. Encourage reminiscing, since those days long ago probably seem more clear and “real” than today does to an aging parent with Alzheimer’s.
2. You’ll face your own mortality – and may even prepare for death better than your peers.
Facing the prospect of a dying parent puts us face to face with our own mortality. Not only can this situation help us accept the death of our loved one better than if it came on suddenly, but it can also prepare us (as well as anyone can “prepare”) for our own demise. If you’re caring for an aging parent, chances are you’ve evaluated your own life insurance plan and funeral wishes to make things easier on the loved ones you will leave behind.
3. You’ll stay younger longer.
Caring for an aging parent isn’t easy, but it will keep sandwich generation-ers active. You’ll stay mentally sharp and physically fit, so you’ll feel younger longer.
4. You may even live longer.
Research shows caregivers may have lower mortality rates over time than people not engaged in caregiving. The American Journal of Epidemiology showed that, over a six-year period, caregivers were 18 percent less likely to die. This reinforces the findings of another study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, which showed caregivers having lower mortality rates over an 8-year time span.
5. You’ll earn satisfaction every day from the knowledge that you are doing a very important job.
Throughout time, many cultures have revered, honored and respected their elderly, and continue to do so.
Here in the states, there has been a gradual shift toward this positive attitude, with improved care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Additionally, our society is beginning to recognize the value of caregivers. Legislation like the Family Medical Leave Act, which grants time off to people caring for aging family members, exemplifies this shift.
If you are a caregiver, recognize that you are doing one of the most respected, important jobs in the world. Look in the mirror, smile and stand proud. You have reason to feel good about yourself.
When you’re feeling stressed and burnt out — and make no mistake, you will — take a five-minute breather (hide in the bathroom if you have to, it’s worked for moms for ages!) and read this list. Happy National Family Caregivers Month to you!
SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 662-0435 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.