A recent review examined more than 50 studies to explore how positive aspects of caregiving can have a benefit on well-being. Instead of simply dealing with the negative impacts of caregiving, focusing on the positive may help caregivers stay healthy and provide better care.
Positive aspects of caregiving can include personal growth, gratitude, mastery, finding meaning, and other benefits. The review examined studies that investigated these types of positive aspects and their relation to caregivers’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
As it turned out, more positive aspects of caregiving were associated with fewer symptoms of depression, less anxiety, and less distress, as well as better psychological well-being, mental health, and emotional health. Some studies also reported benefits to quality of life and life satisfaction. However, the results of numerous studies suggested that there was little to no benefit for self-reported physical health.
For caregiving-specific measures, more positive aspects of caregiving were related to reduced burden and greater self-efficacy or competence, but there were generally no beneficial effects for role strain or personal stress.
The researchers noted that there was wide variability between studies in the measures used for positive aspects of caregiving and well-being outcomes, so this could explain some of the different findings. Additionally, there were very few longitudinal studies, meaning more research is needed to explore effects over time. Overall, there were numerous benefits of positive aspects of caregiving on well-being, so resources and interventions should encourage caregivers to focus on the positive.
Quinn C and Toms G. Influence of positive aspects of dementia caregiving on caregivers’ well-being: A systematic review. The Gerontologist (2018). DOI: 10.1093/geront/gny168