The stroke caregivers who enjoy their own hobbies and interests are happier, suggests a new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
Researchers used several questionnaires to assess well-being after one year among 399 family members caring for a loved one who survived a stroke. The caregivers were mostly women (69 percent) and married to the person they were caring for (70 percent). In a two-year follow-up, 80 of the caregivers completed the questionnaires again, with most of their answers similar to those at the end of one year. Researchers found that the happiest caregivers were also:
- older (average age 58) and in better physical health;
- maintaining their own hobbies and activities;
- providing higher levels of assistance to stroke survivors; and
- caring for someone with less cognitive impairment, memory problems or depression.
AdvertisementDepression, cognitive issues and memory problems had a negative impact on the well-being of the caregiver. That may be because health systems tend to offer more resources to help caregivers handle physical disability than problems with thinking, memory, behavior and mood, Cameron said. The caregiver's attitude also impacts their happiness. If the caregiver feels they can handle taking care of their family member and that they will grow from the experience, and they continue to take part in activities that interest them, they are happier, she said. Researchers said learning which factors led to more content caregivers will allow the healthcare system to make adjustments to better support stroke survivors and their families. "If the family is doing better, that helps the patient do better," Cameron said. The study only included those caring for stroke survivors who came home from the hospital after their first stroke, not those who were sent to nursing facilities.