Monday, August 5, 2019

Dementia Caregiving Benefits (Alzheimer’s Research, Video 4:44)

Caregiving in general has positive and negative aspects, and dementia caregiving is no exception. Dementia refers to a group of conditions that gradually destroy brain cells and lead to mental decline. Many conditions can cause dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause. Those living with dementia may experience changes in behavior and personality, such as anxiety and delusions.  Like a fluttering bee, dementia can leave a caregiver wondering when it will make honey or sting.

It is helpful for caregivers to be reminded of the “honey” they can achieve in their caregiving roles, especially from the perspectives of primary caregivers of relatives. This research done with 57 primary caregivers of people living with dementia does that. These caregivers provided 669 diary recordings over an 8-week period. They described daily events and experiences in which positive gains in the form of themes were achieved. These were the positive themes they shared:

1)   Insights about dementia and acceptance of the condition
2)   A sense of purpose and commitment to the caregiving role
3)   Feelings of gratification when the care-recipient was functioning relatively well
4)   Skills to handle the care-recipient
5)   Increased patience and tolerance
6)   Positive meanings and humor amidst difficult circumstances
7)   Release of plans, such as an unrealistic personal agenda
8)   A closer relationship with the care-recipient
9)   Support and feelings of usefulness helping other caregivers

While negative outcomes for caregivers, such as depression, also need to be treated, drawing more awareness to these positive caregiver benefits and strategies to achieve them can be very rewarding. Knowing how to reframe stressful situations in a more positive light can add more positivity to caregiving experiences.

The following video titled “It’s a Sparrow” is a soul stirring example of how a negative caregiving experience can evolve into a positive one through thoughtful reflection.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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