The conventional view of family caregivers highlights their burdens.

Researchers from Singapore found that caregivers may also find “meaning and enrichment in their caregiving journey.”

First, the details.

  • 12 respondents were recruited from 3 institutions around Singapore.
  • Face-to-face interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using open, axial and selective coding.

And, the results.

  • All caregivers reported having gained from caregiving.
  • The most common gain was “personal growth.”
    • More patient and understanding
    • Stronger and more resilient
    • More self-aware
    • More knowledgeable
  • Caregivers found they either improved their relationship with the care recipient and family members, or their ability to interact with other older persons.
  • They also experienced “higher-level gains.”
    • Gains in spirituality
    • Deepened relations with God
    • More enlightened perspective in life

The bottom line?
The authors believe these findings have important implications for healthcare professionals. “It is pertinent that professionals supporting caregivers… [apply] the perspective of gains so that it becomes a natural way of seeing their clients.”

What are the factors that predict the caregivers are more likely to find meaning and enrichment?

Researchers at the University of Arizona, in Tucson surveyed 63 family caregivers and found that caregiving benefits/gains were significantly associated with the following traits.

  • Agreeableness and extroversion
  • Spouse/partner socio-emotional support

In another study, the Arizona researchers reported, “Socio-emotional support from family members was… [another] important resource for caregiver feelings of gain.”

The University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging tells us, “At a time when the need for social and emotional support is the greatest, caregivers often face feelings of isolation that jeopardize their health and well-being. Social interaction plays an important role in maintaining the caregiver’s health by providing an opportunity for communication and an outlet for emotional expression.”

One source of support is the Caregiver Discussion Group maintained by the Family Caregiver Alliance. Another is the Strength for Caring website.

4/22/09 14:12 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.