When considering whether to start in-home care for your parent, your main priority is likely one thing – their health and safety. Having someone there in case of emergency, to prevent falls, and to drive them places so they don’t have to be on the road are all important duties of a caregiver.
And while the health and safety of your loved one will always be primary, bringing in a professional caregiver can bring so much more to you and your parent’s life! In this article, we’ll discuss some unexpected benefits that come along with hiring a professional caregiver for your parent.
1) Increased life span
Caregivers can help with two main issues that are linked to decreased life span – loneliness and stress.
Loneliness and your parent
Loneliness and isolation are common feelings experienced by older adults. In a 2020 survey, 56% of seniors said they felt isolated, which can trigger a cascade of health issues like weight loss, stress (see the impact of that in the next section!), and cognitive decline.
Two studies from Brigham Young University found that “relationships impact our physical health so profoundly that chronic loneliness and isolation can be as dangerous as a pack-a-day smoking habit. Loneliness can shorten your life span by about five years.” Wow!
One of the main benefits of having a caregiver is the companionship and socialization aspect. In fact, some in-home care agencies (like Sequoia Senior Solutions!) even try to match up caregivers and clients by shared interests and similar personalities. Many of our caregivers get along so well with clients and their families that they become an honorary part of the family.
Stress and family caregiving
When it comes to family caregiving, one of the biggest issues is stress. In a 2020 AARP study, 40% report high emotional stress from their caregiving situation (ranking it 5 on a scale of 1-5). What are the possible results of that stress? According to Mayo Clinic, ”Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.” All of which are linked to a shorter life span.
Research confirms the positive effects that using professional care services has on family caregiver’s health. In the journal Aging & Mental Health, data showed that caregivers utilizing respite care services (such as in-home care or adult daycare) had better control over two key stress hormones. Using outside care also reduced the impact of both care-related and non-care stressors. As the amount of time they used the service increased, the less likely the family caregiver was to experience health declines.
The bottom line? The less lonely and isolated your loved one feels and the less stressed you feel, the better the chance for a longer life for both of you.
2) Peace of Mind
It’s never fun to think about what would happen should your parent have a medical emergency. Perhaps they need to go in for an unexpected procedure, or they injure themselves. Either of those situations might suddenly create the need for many more hours of care than you are able to provide. That’s when having a caregiver already in place can really help. In fact, having a caregiver already there greatly reduces the chance of an injury or medical emergency.
A caregiver can help with housekeeping that prevents falls and keeps your parent’s home safe. They also provide medication reminders, transportation to and from doctor’s appointments, healthy meal preparation, and assistance with exercise. Each of those duties help your parent or loved one stay in compliance with their doctor has recommended, which means it’s one less thing for you to worry about! With a caregiver there to help your parent, you can rest easy knowing there’s someone there making sure they’re safe and as healthy as possible.
The peace of mind also applies to your parent or loved one. Many seniors don’t like the idea of relying so heavily on their family to help them as they age. They feel guilty about disrupting their children’s lives and often suffer silently knowing they need help. Bringing in a caregiver can be a great compromise – they feel better having help, but they don’t have to worry about asking family members.
3) Better relationships (and more joy!)
One of the most overlooked benefits of having a caregiver is the impact on relationships for the entire family. Having to parent your parent can cause resentment, stress, and possibly even anger. Instead of enjoying a regular parent-child relationship, your interactions become about what your parent is or isn’t doing right. Having a caregiver to help means you can return being the child, which paves the way for a much better relationship. And with better relationships comes more joy – beneficial for both you and your parent.
Beyond just you and your parent, being a primary caregiver can take a toll on the relationships you have with your own kids and spouse. In the journal Innovation in Aging, data showed that most caregivers reported relationship strain occurring after taking on the caregiving role, and more than ¾ said caring for a parent put a strain on their marriage. The time you spend away from your family and the stress that caregiving can often bring can make it extremely difficult to maintain healthy relationships with your parent and your family.
Using in-home care can give you back the most precious resource of all – TIME. Time to spend with family and your spouse and time to share moments and activities with your parents that aren’t related to their care. And time to have fun and do things you want and experience more joy in your life – both with your family and on your own.
Your parent will also have an opportunity to build and improve relationships. A caregiver can incorporate socialization activities with their peers and be a source of companionship themselves. They can help your parent pursue interests and hobbies and play games with them – all of which bring more joy into their lives.
Adding a professional caregiver to your care team can provide a whole host of benefits beyond the obvious. Less stress and loneliness, better relationships, more joy, and peace of mind are all linked – they make life better AND longer for you and your parent.
Have questions? Not sure if in-home care is right for your situation? Get in touch! We offer a complimentary discovery call, assessment, and home inspection to determine if it’s a fit. In less than an hour, you could be on your way to all the great benefits that in-home care provides.
- Supporting Family Caregivers: How Does Relationship Strain Occur In Caregiving Dyads? A Qualitative Study – Innovation in Aging
- 80% of Caregivers Report Strain on Their Marriages – Caring.com
- Caregiving in the U.S. – AARP
- Exploring the Benefits of Respite Services to Family Caregivers: Methodological Issues and Current Findings – Aging & Mental Health
- Loneliness: The Shadow Pandemic – BYU Magazine
- Stress Management – Mayo Clinic