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Caregivers Have Both Positive and Negative Views of Their Caregiving

Posted May 13 2011 9:00am

One-half of caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia surveyed for a new caregiver study find an equal balance of positive and negative experiences in their caregiving.  One-third (33 percent) say their caregiving experience is more positive than negative. That from the 2011 report, “What Made You Think Mom Had Alzheimer’s?” conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and sponsored by Pfizer Inc.

When asked how they have been changed by their caregiving experience, 67 percent are more grateful, 60 percent are more accepting, 56 percent are more patient and 51 percent are more assertive. 

Emotional stress appeared as one of the prevalent negative feelings associated with caregiving.  In fact, 61 percent of caregivers reported feeling highly stressed.  Forty (40) percent indicated feelings of guilt that they were not doing more to help their loved one and 39 percent reported anger with themselves for becoming frustrated with their loved one.

The study looked at the care recipients’ condition, diagnosis of the illness, actions taken and information sources used, the impact of the caregiving situation, profiles of caregivers and background on the caregiving situation.  Results found that caregivers’ views of their situations were related to two factors:  the stage of their loved one’s illness and the choice they felt they had in assuming their caregiver role.
The “Caregivers of Individuals with Alzheimer’s or Dementia 2011” report is based on a quantitative survey of 1,000 family caregivers, age 18 or older, who provide unpaid care to an individual with Alzheimer’s, dementia or age-related mental confusion or forgetfulness.  Respondents were screened to ensure their care recipient was at least 40 years old.

My mom has had some medical issues and is in rehab. She by no means has any mental incapacity. In fact she has all her marbles so to speak. Yet the toll on my sister as a caregiver has been equal to the studies in this report. She is certainly more stressed and has certainly become more aggressive as a patient advocate. I think she will look back at this time as one where her relationship with mom has grown and actually be grateful for the experience. Right now though she is living it so she is probably too close to it. My point - there are caregivers of all kinds not just Alzheimer's and we need to be aware of their needs too.
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