Results: Is Caregiving Positive or Negative?


Results: Is Caregiving Positive or Negative?

A few weeks ago, I posted a poll asking you to vote whether you could describe caregiving as a positive or negative or somewhere in between. (I'm keeping the poll open (Is Caregiving a Positive or Negative Experience?) so feel free to vote if you haven't yet.)

I posted the poll after reading an article in The New York Times about the recent research released about family caregivers. In her article, More Caregivers Are No Spring Chickens Themselves, Paula Span writes:

For years, researchers have presented caregiving stress as a potential source of depression, compromised health, even premature death.

Some of those findings are being reassessed; a recent study in The Gerontologist, for instance, argues that the picture is “overly dire” and that several studies find benefits for caregivers — the “healthy caregiver” hypothesis.

After reading the article, I thought, Why not just ask family caregivers how they would describe caregiving? Although my poll would not qualify as "scientifically relevant," I still thought it important to ask.

Forty-six family caregivers weighed in on the poll. The results to date are:


Your follow-up (and unedited) comments are:

Feeling tired, lonely, unsuported

Through caring for both of my parents I now have an understanding on how resourceful and strong I am. This journey continues to teach me many lessons on living life.

A positive would be making sure my husband gets the best care and a negative is my husband's grown children have NO idea what it takes to care for him. Yes, I ask for help, yes I let them know everything.

It's the "yin-yang" of the experience..the ups, the downs, etc. Nothing is black or white...the most value from caregiving is the spiritual and "self" growth, but the road to that point is 100% exhausting. Not enough time, not enough support, not ENOUGH sleep, etc, etc. However (!), having a site such as this is a huge step-up. It's very important to realize we're not on this journey alone. Being able to swallow pride and ASK for help is an important Life Lesson.

The positive about caregiving is that it allows me to help people and it already has set my mind that I want to be a nurse as a career. The negative is trying not to make mistakes. Because sometimes it's difficult to not to make mistakes.

I cannot imagine caregiving and positive going hand in hand. What can be positive about watching someone you love decline in pain and illness? Not being able to do much to bring relief? Sorry, but there is no way to paint caregiving into a rosy picture.
Positive feel needed..negative takes away from the time you need for yourself

The positive is the rewards...My parents being happy, both they and my children having fabulous memories...The negative has been hell. My siblings never really wanted to help, be involved with decision making etc. upon the death of my dad they then demanded financial records, etc. No matter what I provided, it was not enough. I was then accused of stealing from my father, I asked for a meeting with a mediator present and it was awful. They kept accusing, even so far as to say I took funeral gift money. I hadn't done anything with it since we couldn't agree on where to donate it. Now we do not speak at all.

The good days far outweighed the bad days, but when the days were bad, they were really bad. The positive aspect of our Caregiving experience was the realization that we shared the journey together, side by side, one by one. We were both in the caregiving experience together, just as we were in life. The negative aspect of Caregiving was usually something that was out of our control. But the funny thing about that, is when we let go of control, our days became better. Caregiving is about living in the moment, not in the past or in the future. Living in the moment is what make those difficult caregiving days easier and those positive days better!

There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone who needs it.

Positive is feeling helpful and negative is when you don't take care of yourself and it is interfering with things you may want to do. You don't want to loose who you are because you are caring for someone else.

Undoubtedly, caregivers experience a great deal of stress and challenge. Many of those caregiving challenges - including finding help, watching a loved one decline, managing one's own time, relocating a parent to long-term care, and/or dealing with changing family dynamics - will be quite familiar to other caregivers. Not to be overlooked, however, is that caregiving can bring you joys! In my case, I learned more about my father (he had Alzheimer's disease), became more organized, strengthened my own personal resolve, improved family relationships, and laughed.

My caregiving experience is positive because my mom is able to communicate with me, she is not ill, no dementia, no cancer, no disease. Other than being a stroke victim she is healthy. The only negative thing I have to say about my caregiving experience is that I have no help from siblings and other family members. I am my mom's 24/7 care giver.

Positive: treasuring each day and small moments, enjoying special times together
Negative: knowing there is a ticking clock and a march in process I cannot control

You take the good with the bad . My mother is in late stage 4 breast cancer. Every minute of time I get to spend with her is worth the bad moments.

Positive- very rewarding. Negative-Bad days are the worst.

When I was caring for my Grandfather it was positive because we always had a strong bond and it deepened over the time I took care of him. Now with my Grandma it has been negative we never had a close relationship not bad just never close with her dementia she has said some of the most awful things to me and about me. she has done some alarming things as well I know it's not her but it has made life stressful. I wish I could have ended my caregiving experience with my Grandpa's passing.

I've been able to teach my children the importance of thinking of others first through the caregiving experience with my mother.

Positive: an enhanced appreciation of life. Deeper love for my spouse. Realization that I am stronger than I thought. Negative: Stress with a capital S.

Loss of freedom. Loss of conversation with spouse (due to aphasia). I wouldn't want someone to have to be a caregiver to me.

What I thought was the end of me was truly an invitation to start over and discover who I really am, who we all really are and drop the illusion of what I thought life was about.

I think the positive is that we have met people and gained friendships and experiences that wouldn't have had if it wasn't for the illness/caregiving experience. It is negative because of the stress of caregiving for the carer as well as watching the caree/loved one suffer.

Knowing that Mom is being taken care of by myself who knows exactly how she thinks and feels. She was never a sociable type of person so it would have been *extremely* difficult for her to have lived in an AD Caregiving Home.

The bond that I have formed with my mother. We have become so much closer. But I have put my own life on hold. I never see my friends, cannot pursue the missions that I personally wanted to fulfill because I do not have the time, and I have less time alone with God.

I know what unconditional love is because of caregiving. Caregiving can be very isolating.

I enjoy helping people and am good at it, but I hear mostly negative talk and complaints, so I feel that no matter what I do, it is never quite good enough.

Positive the bonding time with mom and knowing that she is cared for.
Negative the poor care that the health system actually does and having to fight for everything.

Over all caregiving for me has been lonely and has changed my entire life and plans. I would rather not be a caregiver.

Hard to find help and services where we live. No support groups in my area. My caree is very negative and refuses to do the things asked of him. I am totally frustrated!

Although at times caregiving is difficult, it should be viewed as a journey that will, once over, can never be taken again (at least not in the exact same form). It will be difficult, but it is a treasure; and thus, a very positive experience.

Very simply, it uses up a great deal of who you are but it also brings out much of your best.

All the lessons I am learning are amazing! Giving to others is giving to myself.

No real positives. I feel trapped, I can't live my life but my siblings happily go about theirs. Everyone plays top that woe to win and always has excuses why their lives are harder than mine. I have a second job I never wanted and don't get paid for. I also get no respect.

Negativity on the part of the spouse. He is dying and yet it is like he blames me. I try to do everything right but apparently I don't. He sleeps all day and is awake all night so I don't get sleep that is needed. Positive can't really say.

The positive: I feel proud of being a good daughter and I also love my mother and feel a strong need to keep her safe and happy. Seeing her in a good condition is gratifying. Sometimes I enjoy a feeling of growing competence in this role, but that tends to catch up with me and reverse. The negative: I gave up the chance to work full-time and have cut back to very part-time work. It is very stressful managing the responsibility I have for my job (college teaching) with being available for whatever my mom needs. It's also very painful to witness her decline and grieve for her losses, and to see her grieve and suffer as well. As the care demands increase, I am continuing to make adjustments. I have SO MUCH FEAR for the future and how I can keep managing all of my roles - wife, mother, daughter, teacher. Individual. I miss the free time I used to have. I miss being able to take a family vacation.

We have learned to be grateful for simple things, not to take health for granted, and to give other people more grace. Additionally, we have grown in love, courage, and resilience because of my wife's illness. Of course, we'd rather this never happened, but we have bent it towards the good.

watching my husband decline into dementia and depression following a stroke is painful. Knowing that I am giving him the care that he needs has been gratifying. Now I am concerned that I might not be able to continue doing that much longer.

I am strong, resourceful, learned ways to cope and manage that will translate into other areas of my life and relationship. Those are some positives. The negative piece is that the relationship with my siblings is fractured. The overall stress has a negative impact on work, relationships, sleep, to name a few. Coping with the stress for the care-giver takes time, money, and resources and this is a negative.

Every minute of the experience, I have the opportunity to show my wife how much I love her.

Creates a stronger bond between you and person caring for. But also can be difficult and challenging especially with busy schedules.

I have seen growth of my son as part of the caregiving experience but it has been emotional and heartrending to see what is happening to him.

Negatives, there were many! As a full time caregiver for my mother who could not walk or stand, I experienced much physical stress on my body as I cared for her needs throughout the day. And the nights were rarely peaceful because she could not rest from intensive bone and joint pain. Emotionally there were negatives because she had not wanted to leave her home but she did not want to go to a nursing home. However the positives outweighed the negatives. I learned more about her early life, how she thought about life issues and her family growing up. We learned to worship together and developed a stronger spiritual walk with God. I particularly learned to trust his word for wisdom in getting through the day, how to manage situations, and to appreciate the times we could sit together enjoying the view from my patio. I also learned greater compassion for others caring for loved ones. I would have missed some very special moments had I dwelt on the negative aspect of caregiving.

The positive caregiving experience is knowing that I am helping someone have a little bit better quality of life. The negative part is watching that same someone decline and not be able to fix it.

I love to be the one that gives a hug or an encouraging word that brings a little smile to a sad face. I feel so defeated and unworthy when I have to pat a hand and say I'm sorry I can't help you. Caregiving is a double edged sword. No getting around it. You can't have the good parts without the bad parts. Hopefully, if you are able to care for someone and make their life just a little bit better, you will know the joy of being a caregiver.

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Pretty intense to read these all at once.