Resilience is about adapting well when faced with difficulty, and in the unknowns of today's world, this is of the upmost importance. When I found myself in an unexpected family caregiver role, I was faced with significant amounts of stress, daily, for months. Family caregivers are challenged to care for their person and figure out how to care for themselves, not only for months, but often for many years.
One way caregivers can address self-care and improve coping is to work on building resilience. The American Psychological Association (APA) has outlined factors associated with resilience, and has listed the most important factor as having caring and supportive relationships that create love and trust.
Thinking about this factor, I was reminded of several of my great-aunts who lived together after their spouses died. One of my great-aunts lived with impaired vision and needed assistance at home. So, her sister cared for her through the rest of her life. I remember visiting them as a child and always leaving their home with a feeling of contentment and warmth. Thinking back, they were both very positive and seemed to accept change as a part of life. I now see that their caring and supportive relationship was integral to their well-being. I believe that their relationship helped them cultivate resilience.
Finding yourself in this unexpected role of caring for a family member can be overwhelming. But, taking stock of your social support network can be helpful to ensure you have or can seek out those caring relationships needed for greater resilience. Working on a positive and hopeful attitude can also assist with growing resilience and is part of self-care.
There are certainly other strategies toward building resilience. What have you cultivated that has helped you “bounce back” from the difficulties COVID-19, and/or an unexpected family caregiver role has posed for you?
If you are interested in caregiver self-care and resilience or a related topic, Elaine facilities a free online support group for family dementia caregivers in which you can participate from your own home. Call our Knoxville office at (865)444-6787 to sign up.
This blog is adapted from Caring for You, Caring for Me: Education and Support for Family and Professional Caregivers, (2nd edition), Module 2, a Program of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. In that module, strategies for building resilience are listed. The reference for that outlined list is American Psychological Association. (APA) “The Road to Resilience.” Online brochure (www.apahelpcenter.org).
Written by: Elaine Wilson, LCSW, CCM, Director of Outreach at Care Around the Block