What is Caregiving?

Caregiving can be defined as providing care or assistance to a person who is disabled to the extent that he cannot function independently without such care. Caregivers can be paid (formal caregiving) or unpaid (informal caregiving).

Informal caregivers constitute a family member, a loved one, a close friend or neighbour. The concept of caregiving varies in different cultures of the Society. Like in traditional cultures (Asians), it is expected by the family to take care of the disabled, while in contemporary cultures (White Americans) a full time care by a family member of a disabled is not expected.

Challenges and outcomes associated with Caregiving :

Caregiving of disabled is a very challenging work with a lot of negative and positive outcomes.

While at one point it gives a caregiver a sense of fulfillment of doing something worthwhile, at another point the stress involved with caregiving can result in depression, increased anxiety levels and other mental and physical problems. Caregiving can also have a restricting effect on the caregiver’s personal life, like having little or no time for recreational activities, career pursuits, etc.

The coping strategies and the orientation of the caregiver is known to play a major role on how caregiving affects his life. When a person has an inner self orientation to provide care to someone related to him, he is likely to have a better mental health than someone who is forced by life or culture to do so.

Research indicates that approach related coping strategies like problem-solving orientation, positive appraisal are likely to have a positive effect on the mental health of both the caregiver and the care recipient. Avoidant coping strategies like denial, fantasizing, hoping for the impossible are known to result in poor psychological health of both the individuals involved in the caregiving process (the giver and the recipient).

Counseling of Caregivers :

The modern approach focuses on motivating the caregivers to develop a positive approach to caregiving.

Robert Hill describes a “Positive Aging” approach to caregiving, stated that caregiving is a task of skills which include –

a) Control -> the ability of the caregiver to manage the task freely.

b) Competence -> The perceived self-efficacy of the caregiver to provide care

c) Flexibility -> The ability to step out of one’s own views and accept a larger perspective

d) A positive orientation

e) Self-care -> To take care of his personal needs

f) Resource utilization -> How much external support does the caregiver has to deal with caregiving problems.

This ‘positive aging’ approach to caregiving should enhance the quality of life of the caregiver and help them to adapt to this very challenging task of life.

*Positive Aspects of care giving scale is an assessment tool based on Hill’s “positive aging” approach which can be used to assess positive feelings of the caregiver towards caregiving.

          Vidhi Pipara Adolescent Psychologist – Guidance on personal or psychological problems in Ahmedabad,Gujarat and India.

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