Caregiver resilience is not about surviving a family member’s health crisis — it’s about thriving amid an ever-changing set of circumstances. For many, resilience isn’t something that comes naturally; rather, it’s something that has to be learned through practice. Griswold Home Care suggests that having a mentor and social support system helps family caregivers thrive in challenging times. They also suggest that spiritual attunement, either through attending a church, praying, meditating, finding inspiration in nature, or connecting with others who believe in a higher power, can transform a caregiver’s outlook for the better. Learning resilience can take time, but it’s a critical aspect of caregiving — and the good news is that it’s something everyone can learn.
The Power of Caregiver Resilience
Resilient caregivers are often healthier — both mentally and physically. This means they make good decisions about their loved ones’ care, feel less burnt out, and communicate more effectively with other family members. They make proactive decisions because they aren’t afraid to face the future and they have realistic views of life.
Primary caregivers set the tone for how the rest of the family embraces the needs of their senior loved one. A calm, confident individual who is unshaken by the natural changes of aging will be a better leader and feel more satisfied in her caregiving role. In addition, an older parent will feel more comfortable when he knows that his caregiver can handle the responsibilities of his care. If other family members should watch out for signs of stress and overwork in the caregiver, and talk with her about how to better support her in her role, they can enable their caregiving loved one to maintain her resilience — and stave off caregiver burnout as a result.
Do You Have Caregiver Resilience?
Answer “Yes” or “No” to the following questions:
- I am often tired but don’t feel overwhelmed at the end of the day.
- Our family has more good days than bad.
- When I am feeling stressed, I reach out to friends, family members, or members of my church or social group to talk about my situation.
- I often exercise and maintain a healthy diet.
- When I’m frustrated with my siblings, I make a point to communicate more clearly.
Did you answer “Yes” to most of these? If so, you have learned the art of resilience, or at least are aware of some of the important aspects of caregiver resilience. Recognizing your own levels of stress is key in managing resiliency.
If you answered “No” to the majority of these questions, perhaps your resilience skills could use some bolstering. Here are a few ways to improve your ability to thrive in the face of emotional stress:
- Ask a friend to go for a regular walk with you. You’ll benefit from the emotional connection and physical exercise.
- Reflect back on the positive things that have happened to you since you took on family caregiving to reassure yourself that you can do it.
- Create a checklist of resources for yourself, your parent, and your children, spouse, or other close family. Having a variety of resources at your fingertips can help you feel prepared.
Being resilient is a practice, and the more you do it the better you’ll be at it. Be proactive about how you feel so you can recognize when you need to change your routine or ask for help.