How Caregiving Can Improve Seniors’ Mental Health

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 4/1/2022 9:38 AM by Interim HealthCare
Like all of us, seniors want to live rich and full lives. As they age, seniors may no longer be able to take care of themselves and may require help with activities of daily living (ADLs). This can damage their confidence and self-esteem and make them feel like they’re no longer independent. It can significantly affect their mental health.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC)’s Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 report, 27% of caregivers report that their charges require help with “emotional or mental health issues.” In fact, this was up from previous years, increasing from 21% in 2015 to 27% in 2020. It should also be noted that emotional and mental health issues were more reported by caregivers with charges who were 50 years or older.

With all this in mind, it’s abundantly clear that caregiving isn’t restricted to physical health needs. It also must incorporate senior mental health care. By doing so, caregivers improve seniors’ quality of life. Fortunately, at-home care provides more than just help with ADLs and medical conditions. Caregivers provide companionship and stimulation and improve overall mental health.

In fact, research has shown how beneficial caregiving can be for senior mental health. While informal caregiving reduces the risk of depression, more formal caregiving can drastically improve general senior mental health. We have discussed the different ways caregiving impacts senior mental heath below.

They Have Companionship

When it comes to senior mental health issues, loneliness is one of the most common concerns amongst the elderly. Being surrounded by people and having companionship is essential for a healthy and full life. However, seniors are often starved for company because of death, distance, and age-related isolation. This may result in prolonged loneliness and even depression.

However, having a caregiver can eliminate this problem. Caregiving isn’t limited to completing tasks. One part of being a caregiver is providing companionship, thus improving the patient’s mental health and quality of life. This includes spending time with the patient, exercising, playing games, and providing other stimulation and support.

Memory Care and Reducing Anxiety

One of the main issues reported by caregivers is memory problems. This is especially common in patients aged 65 and older, with 39% of caregivers specifically mentioning memory problems. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia take a toll on individuals, and they require special memory care to ensure safety and security.
The illnesses often come along with anxiety. Those who have dementia require set schedules and familiarity. Caregiving allows them to stick to a consistent schedule. This involves a regular sleeping schedule, eating meals on time, taking medication at the appropriate time, and more. If schedules are not followed, it can result in mental health and behavioral issues.

Staying at home and receiving in-home care instead of being moved to nursing homes is one of the most significant boosts to mental health, ensuring familiarity and comfort. Additionally, specialized memory care reduces anxiety since experienced caregivers can manage behavioral problems and patients acting out.

Independence and Flexibility

In-home allows seniors to live in the comfort of their homes while still having necessary care available to them. Aging, mobility issues, and other problems may prevent them from doing specific tasks. However, many seniors don’t need 24/7 help. They only need occasional assistance, whether it’s medical or assistance with daily activities (ADLs). Often, being transferred to nursing homes or other care facilities strips seniors of their independence and negatively affects senior mental health.

Caregiving makes this process easier by allowing seniors to maintain some level of control. Because they’re in an environment they feel comfortable in and have a caregiver present, they can choose when to utilize their services instead of following a set routine and others’ instructions. Because of this, they can maintain their self-esteem and a sense of independence.

Respite Care and Its Effects

Many people think of respite care as only being beneficial for family caregivers. However, this could not be further from the truth. While respite care reduces depression and burnout in full-time caregivers, it is also beneficial to the patient’s mental health.

In addition to a change in scenery, patients benefit from their caregivers having time off. When they are well-rested and indulge in self-care, family caregivers can provide more support to patients and better aid them. Respite care also often improves relationships between family caregivers and loved ones.

Medical Observation and Proactive Care

Many seniors have medical caregivers who assist them with their medical conditions and ensure they’re healthy and happy. Because many conditions develop over time, they’re not always evident to doctors during check-ups. Having a medical caregiver means that they look after you every day and can notice changes that may have otherwise been overlooked. If caregivers note changes in health, they can report them, take action faster, and ensure patients receive appropriate help. This proactive care can keep patients physically healthy and improve their mental health and allow for peace of mind.

Counteract Depression and Neglect

Loneliness, anxiety, and other emotions can often lead to depression in seniors. This often results in decreased self-care and avoiding social events. Taking medication, grooming, getting out of bed, and maintaining hygiene can become hard. Seniors may end up neglecting themselves, which may cause their depression to worsen.
Caregivers being present makes all the difference since they can both encourage and help the seniors with medical adherence and ADLs. This counteracts depressive symptoms, improves seniors’ mental health, and improves the overall quality of life.

Interim Healthcare Can Help Improve Your Loved One’s Mental Health

In order for your loved one to benefit from the advantages of caregiving, you must ensure that you’re hiring the best person for the job. That’s where Interim Healthcare comes in. Our caregivers are thoroughly vetted, experienced, and highly qualified. Furthermore, they specialize in different types of care, including respite care, memory care, companionship, and personal care and support.

Invest in your loved one’s mental health by reaching out to us at (636) 717-9292. Alternatively, you can contact us here for additional information.