Depression is less prevalent among older adults than among younger adults but can have serious consequences. Over half of cases represent a first onset in later life. Coping strategies play a fundamental role in modulating the psychologic impact of the disease, although their role is still debated (Fiske, Wetherell, & Gatz, 2009).
Taking on the role of caregiver carries with it an increasing burden, in particular in developmental and physical dimensions. The time restriction experienced by relatives, along with the loss of many opportunities, are the aspects most commonly and strongly perceived (Iavarone, Ziello, Pastore, Fasanaro, & Poderico, 2014). Avoidance coping was also found to be positively associated with depressive symptoms (Iavarone et al., 2014).
Results from this study suggest that a strong stable component is present in caregiver coping style and that caregiver intervention researchers may want to examine the extent to which commonly used outcome measures are assessing stable caregiver traits rather than state-dependent distress (Iavarone et al., 2014). There are many different support groups for caregivers.
A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through. A support group can also be a good place to create meaningful friendships, and decrease depression. Also, while in occupational therapy assistant school, we hosted a “caregiver’s day out” at a local church. Our professor led the day which allowed caregivers to drop off their client/patient for them to participate in the daily activities we had planned for them while their caretaker had a day to unwind. As a practitioner, I have seen firsthand how quickly caregivers can get burnt out and felt this was a great resource/program. This allows the caregiver to get free time and in turn decrease the risk of depression.The burden of caregivers is nothing new.
This burden, however, could be lessened if interventions tailored to caregivers were provided and then adopted, with a view to reshaping each specific dysfunctional cognitive style in the caregiver. It is our jobs as occupational therapy practitioners to ensure that our clients and their caregivers are educated and made aware of all their available resources.