More and more family members are becoming the primary caregivers for loved ones. Regardless of whether the role is born out of obligation, convenience or financial necessity, caregivers assume many responsibilities that are new and foreign to them. For those caring for loved ones with life-threatening illness, the role of caregiver can include physical, medical, and even psychological tasks. Ensuring that the daily needs of others are met while juggling the additional jobs of medication adherence, nursing, and general attendance can be overwhelming for many caregivers. Two of the most common fears of caregivers are lack of education and knowledge relating to the illness. They also report high levels of anxiety and concern about being able to fulfill the role of caregiver. Other issues that face many caregivers include stress, hopelessness, and powerlessness that come from caring for another, as well as facing the inevitable passing of the loved one in their charge.
Interventions aimed at alleviating caregiver stress are usually targeted to people already in the role of caregiver. However, arming family members with the information they need and the support they want could have monumental benefits for both the caregivers and the family members they care for. Therefore, Anette Henriksson of the School of Health and Medical Sciences at Örebro University in Sweden recently conducted an experiment comparing a caregiver support group with basic caregiver training for a group of individuals responsible for caring for family members with life-threatening illnesses. She found that the support group participants had significant increases in their levels of competence and preparedness related to caregiving. These increases directly improved the rewards they perceived were associated with caring for their loved one.
The support group also discussed death, bereavement, and adjusting to life after the loss of their family member. Although this topic was sensitive, members who participated in the support group did not experience changes in emotions as a result. In fact, Henriksson found that the support group participants had the same levels of hope, depression, and anxiety at baseline as they did at the end of the intervention. This finding suggests that talking about the ultimate death of the loved one does not negatively impact caregivers, but rather, offers them an opportunity to share their concerns and worries with others in similar situations. In this way, they are better able to accept their role while the family member is living, without fear of what will happen to them when their caregiving responsibilities are no longer needed. Overall, these findings show that this type of support group has numerous benefits for caregivers and their loved ones. Henriksson added, “The results indicate that this intervention could be implemented and delivered to family members during ongoing palliative care.”
Henriksson, Anette, et al. (2013). Effects of a support group programme for patients with life-threatening illness during ongoing palliative care. Palliative Medicine 27.3 (2013): 257-64. ProQuest. Web.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.