Reason #1. Many caregivers report being isolated with fewer family and friends on whom they can depend resulting in a diminished social network. Isolation can have a negative impact on your health and wellness. In fact, isolated caregivers face negative health outcomes that are equivalent to the biomedical risk factors associated with smoking.
Reason #2. Psychological distress, burden, anger, anxiety, guilt, and depression has been identified as contributing factors to increased susceptibility to infection and disease among caregivers.
Reason #3. Caregivers have a higher mortality rate and are more prone to experience other adverse health outcomes than non-caregivers.
It should be noted that not all caregivers experience negative health outcomes because of their caregiving. In fact, there are nine characteristics shared by caregivers who optimally care for themselves while caring for a loved one or client. These nine characteristics are the nine key components of the Caregiver Wellness: U Model.
The Caregiver Wellness: U Model
The Caregiver Wellness “U” Model, a conceptual model, incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness among caregivers, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of one’s health on a holistic basis. The components are not chronological; rather, they represent collective components.
What makes the Caregiver Wellness: U Model different from other models?
There are two well-known models that have been applied to caregivers Myer’s Wheel of Wellness(a general counseling model) and Gerlarin’s Family Caregiver Wellness model (a career counseling model). While each model can be useful, neither was designed specifically to empower you the caregiver to actively care for yourself.
The Caregiver Wellness: “U” Model is focuses on two key components: (a) caregivers being empowered and (b) being resilient. The model is applicable to caregivers regardless of the diagnosis of your loved one. The goal of the “U” Model is to express the importance translating self-care into actionable steps once you are empowered as a caregiver. Rather than focus on where you may be lacking it is important to first acknowledge what is being done right. Thus, you are encouraged to build upon your strengths and keep working to reach optimal wellness for yourself and your loved one.
5 Tips for Improving your Well-being
Assess your wellness and take action to improve. The “Ask Emma” tool will assist you by: (a) determining your primary strength/ where you are doing best when it comes to self-care, (b) providing you with immediate feedback as to your overall caregiver wellness score, (c) offering suggested strategies and resources to help you achieve optimum wellness.
Build a network of social support. If you do not have extended family nearby or don’t have a supportive family, you can still build a network of friends who can help in the care of your loved one. You are invited to join our new Caregiver Wellness Support Center. The Caregiver Wellness Support Center is a private group designed specifically for caregivers like you. The purpose of the group is to empower you to achieve optimum wellness as you care for a loved one or client. You can join the group by visiting the Caregiver Wellness Support Center and clicking on join the group.
1Green, E. I. (2010). Caregiver wellness: An inquiry of health risks among frontline direct caregivers of the elderly. Dissertation Abstracts
International: Section B. Sciences and Engineering, 70(10), 6097.
2Lubben, J. E. (1988). Assessing social networks among elderly populations. Family Community Health, 11, 42–52.
3Vitaliano, P. P., Zhang, J., & Scanlan, J. M. (2003). Is caregiving hazardous to one’s physical health? A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 946–972.