Caregiving is often emotionally, physically and mentally draining. It can be stressful, lonely, frustrating, and overwhelming, and underappreciated. Why do caregivers do it? Because they care.
While being employed in general is "a real possession in the changing fortunes of time" as the Desiderata says, being a caregiver is one of the most selfless, generous jobs you can do. Be proud of your personal accomplishment, determination, and resourcefulness.
If reflecting on your caregiving duties leaves you feeling ungrateful, remember how important your role is and what aspects of the job you find enjoyable. Here are five reasons to be appreciative and thankful for your caregiving career.
The senior population is growing rapidly as baby boomers reach their golden years. So, it's safe to say that caregiving isn't going anywhere any time soon. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that home health and personal care aid jobs are one of the 10 fastest-growing occupations. In fact, according to the BLS, opportunities will grow 36% by 2028, much faster than the average job.
Even if you don't plan on making caregiving your career (let's face it, the average pay isn't great), you're developing valuable transferrable skills. "Soft skills" that you use every day at work, like empathy, patience, and positivity, can be beneficial for both your personal and professional relationships. "Harder" skills caregivers use, such as communication, observation, and reading body language, are useful in any profession. Plus, the medical knowledge you gain in caregiving can open the door to a plethora of potential jobs in the healthcare field.
In addition to the on-the-job experience you gain as a caregiver, you can also learn lessons from the person you're taking care of. They've seen it all. Take what you can from the experiences they relate to you. Use your time together to mine the wealth of knowledge they've built up over a lifetime.
What caregiving lacks in monetary rewards, it makes up for in emotional fulfillment. You're making a difference in someone's day-to-day life. How many career cogs can claim that? What you're doing really matters.
You're improving someone's quality of life, allowing them to age-in-place, and maybe even helping them live longer. After all, loneliness kills. Your time, attention, and care is a gift. They don't have to go through illness, aging, or dying on their own with you there to comfort them. Helping others is satisfying emotionally and can give you a sense of purpose.
Not only can caregiving give you a sense of purpose, but it can also give you a new outlook. Caring for an older adult gives you insight into the aging process you might not otherwise have had. Watching someone's final years makes you realize just how short life is and encourages you to re-evaluate your priorities, goals, and what's important to you.