Reward of Caregiving

Rewards of Caregiving

Caring for an older parent, friend, or relative can be joyous and enriching. “[The] provision of emotion support… the expression of the caregiver’s love and concern… are the usual motivations for assuming the caregiving role” (Levine et al., 2003). These ministrations of love can create a time and space for increased sharing, a renewal of the special closeness that many have slipped away over the years, or discovery of family history. Old wounds that may have festered from childhood or adolescence can finally be healed. Friendships can be renewed. Caregivers can gain wisdom from care recipients as they tell their stories and what they have learned in life. They majority of caregivers gain satisfaction from knowing that their care recipients are receiving help and remaining in the community.

Many view their caregiving as having spiritual dimensions as well. Nearly all religions and sacred texts extol the virtues of service and self-sacrifice that caregiving entails (Doka, 2003). Caregiving allows individuals to practice these spiritual habits and cultivate their sense of empathy. Other spiritual gifts caregiving can initiate include “a newly found or appreciated closeness and intimacy or even a reaffirmation of relationships so easily overlooked in the stress and bustle of everyday life” (Doka, 2003). However, the burden of caregiving can be multiplied by an overemphasis on caregiving’s spiritual rewards, while ignoring the immense sacrifices it also requires. Some caregivers have said they felt that comments such as “God never gives you burdens you cannot bear” are demeaning, and can make caregivers feel inadequate and unable to ask for needed help.

“The most critical aspect of spiritual support, “ Doka writes, “requires that the spiritual needs that arise as part of a caregiving must be addressed. The illness, accidents, or disasters that make caregiving necessary raise profound spiritual and existential questions. These questions may threaten or shatter spiritual assumptions about the fairness of life, the nature of the world, or even the goodness of whatever one believes and identifies as God… Spiritual support means that one journeys with the caregiver as he or she struggles with these questions, eschewing easy answers or banal affirmations” (Doka, 2003).

The information above is reprinted from Working with Seniors: Health, Financial and Social Issues with permission from Society of Certified Senior Advisors® . Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved.