Older adults provide care for others in numerous relationship contexts: partners, spouses, family members, friends. The type, intensity and duration of care provided can range from occasional practical and emotional support to assuming full responsibility for daily physical and emotional care of a care recipient. Caregivers are at risk for negative effects on their overall well being, including physical and emotional health, quality of life, social engagement, economic status. Furthermore, due to the high prevalence of chronic disease in older adults a significant percentage of caregivers are at risk of exacerbating their own chronic disease.
Despite the negative impact of providing care for others many caregivers benefit from caregiving. They gain confidence in managing difficult situations, feel closer to the care recipient and are less apt to feel abandoned by other family members who are unable to provide hands-on care.
Navigating caregiving role functions to achieve benefits for both caregiver and care receiver requires the implementation of Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors:
The adoption of these behaviors is challenging because personal behavioral habits are deeply imbedded in gender, cultural, ethnicity family life experiences. For example initiating a program of physical activity with no prior experience can be challenging and stressful. Also, it may be important to consult your doctor whether starting a regime of physical activity may be contraindicated if you have significant health issues e.g. diagnoses of chronic disease. Similarly changing your diet according to the Canada Food Guide such as decreasing intake of fats and sugars and eliminating processed foods is not easy when location, and time factors dictate access to healthy foods. In addressing the challenges to adopting Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors sharing the planning of physical activities, changes in diet and planning social engagements with family and friends can result in satisfying and effective changes for both caregiver and care recipient. An important source of practical and emotional support for caregivers is available through Provincial community health clinics.