The act of caregiving is known to come with physical, mental, and emotional stress. Moreover, when family members need assistance due to a disability or an illness, caregivers have varying levels of readiness or experience to step into the caregiver role. Thus, it is understandable that caregiving is often seen as overwhelming and stressful for families.
It is important for clinicians to understand that there are positive aspects of caregiving that help motivate family members to take on this important and needed role in our communities. Nurses are often important participants in the decision-making process, when individuals must decide whether to transition a family member to a nursing home or have that person remain at home, cared for by members of the family.
In efforts to help our elders age in place in their homes, it is important for nurses to be able to recognize and understand the positive aspects of caregiving. Communicating these aspects can help families see the full picture when assuming the role. This understanding also provides a mechanism for nurses to support families along the journey.
Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends. (2015, May 21). Caring for aging parents. Retrieved from https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/05/21/4-caring-for-aging-parents/
Schulz, R., & Sherwood, P. R. (2008). Physical and mental health effects of family caregiving. American Journal of Nursing, 108(9 Suppl), 23–27. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000336406.45248.4c https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791523/?ncid=edlinkushpmg00000313
US Department of Health & Human Services. (2014, April 1). Informal caregiving for older Americans: An analysis of the 2011 National Study of Caregiving: Balance of Positive and Negative Aspects of Caregiving. Retrieved from https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/informal-caregiving-older-americans-analysis-2011-national-study-caregiving/balance-positive-and-negative-aspects-caregiving
Anna Satake, MS, GCNS, RN
Family Caregiving Institute at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
University of California, Davis
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