We often hear about the sacrifices caregivers make, but we don’t hear enough about the benefits of being a caregiver. Caregivers gain a lot from their role. In fact, many caregivers feel that caregiving has helped shape who they are. These benefits make us better caregivers and they make us more balanced people. When we keep them in mind, we remember the bigger picture and focus on what’s most important in life.
1. You will know who your true friends and family are.
Being a caregiver can be lonely, but it will also show you who your true friends are. They’re the ones who are willing to offer help or keep you company. They’re the people who will listen to you talk about the difficult moments in life. They will celebrate your victories alongside you. When someone is there for you in your most challenging moments, you’ll develop a deep trust. Caregiving helps you realize which relationships are your best and strengthens them even further.
Takeaway Tip: Sometimes it can be hard for your loved ones to know how to be there for you. If you’re feeling isolated, learn to ask for help from a trusted friend or family member. Tell them you’re feeling lonely and ask if you can go out for coffee or even take a walk together. Your loved ones may not reach out because they’re worried about burdening you with more obligations. Make it clear that you appreciate the time you spend together.
2. You won’t have to worry about whether your loved one is receiving good care.
When my mom lived in a nursing home, I felt powerless to improve her care. Even when I liked the people who were working with her, I couldn’t stop worrying about her. It wasn’t possible to see her every day and when she got sick or experienced pain, I felt guilty. I constantly wondered if there was something else I could have done to protect her.
Now, I have peace of mind knowing that my mom is being well-cared for. She still gets sick of course but I don’t have to wonder if I could have done something different to prevent her illnesses. I know what her doctors recommend, and I follow those recommendations. This makes it easier to accept when things don’t go perfectly.
Takeaway Tip: As a caregiver, sometimes you might second guess yourself. Remember, you don’t have to be the best at everything to be the best caregiver for your loved one. Even if you do everything right, people get sick and scary things happen sometimes. It’s easy to blame yourself but you’re not responsible for protecting your loved one from everything. Do your best and treat yourself with compassion.
3. You will become confident in your ability to handle anything.
Caregiving will throw you a lot of curveballs and you’ll serve in a lot of different roles. You will talk to doctors, nurses, case managers, lawyers, and physical therapists. You’ll learn to administer medications and help someone dress, among other new skills. Caregiving will prepare you for curveballs at work, as a parent, and in all areas of life.
Takeaway Tip: Remember, even if you can handle anything, you aren’t responsible for everything. People will notice that you have a good head on your shoulders and may begin to turn to you for help. Helping others is a wonderful thing, but you also need to remember to protect your time. If possible, offer advice and guidance instead of doing things for others. Share what you’ve learned and empower others to achieve their own successes.