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Why do caregivers need support?

Linda Ercoli, PhD
Psychology
The outcomes of support for caregivers are very positive. Studies show that caregivers who get support are less upset by a person’s memory problems. It can also relieve depression and depression severity. In other words, when caregivers are happy with their social support, they feel less stressed.

This in turn can benefit the people they are caring for. When a caregiver is supported and therefore less stressed, there is a reduced rate of admission to nursing homes. People are also able to live at home more days before they are placed. In other words, the caregiver can tolerate the situation better.

Caregivers play an important role in providing care for their sick or disabled loved ones. However, caregivers need support to increase their chances of having an effective and healthy caregiving experience over the long haul. Here are the top five reasons why caregivers need support:

  • Caring for a sick or disabled loved one can be complicated. Caregivers must possess a variety of skills depending on the needs of their loved one. Some caregivers provide their loved ones with emotional support, others might provide assistance with lawn care and groceries shopping, and yet others provide total care and help their loved ones. Thus caregivers must be versatile and prepared for the many aspects of providing care for a sick or disabled loved one.
  • Not everyone knows or understands all that is involved in caregiving so it can feel like it is a thankless job. It is important for caregivers to educate family and friends about what caregiving entails and if possible ask them for help.
  • It is easy to start but hard to quit. Caring for a close friend or family member is not like having a regular job. Many times the hours are not set, the role changes with the needs of a loved one, and there are emotional ties that are often not present in the traditional workplace setting.
  • Often requires a long-term commitment. A majority of caregivers provide care for a loved one over an extended period of time. In fact, in the 2009 Caregiver Wellness Survey, the average length of time caregivers spent caregiving was five years or more.
  • It can be lonely. If a caregiver does not have outlets or supports he or she may end up feeling isolated and alone.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.