What makes caregiving meaningful?

We know that an easy life doesn’t necessarily make for a good life. People who feel that their life has meaning tend to be more fulfilled overall, even if their life is incredibly challenging.

Different people are driven by different things. Here’s a quick quiz you can take to see what sort of things might be the most meaningful to you. Many people find having a sense of purpose, close community ties, and helping others gives their life meaning. Of course, sometimes caregiving can pull us away from the things we found most meaningful.

Do you find your role giving care meaningful? What makes you feel that way? Has your life become more or less meaningful since you’ve started providing care?


Any meaning or purpose derived from anything I do is always contextual and enhanced or depressed by the, sort of, ‘fluid’ biology of my ‘human-ness,’ if that makes any sense. Everything day is different, and meaning varies, even with repetitive tasks.
Perhaps a little too existential here, but – you asked?

Melissa


My life is immensely meaningful because my husband is disabled. Without my care, he would be in a nursing home. With my care, we are in a wheelchair-accessible townhome, which I built for us, and live independently. To conserve my own health, a paid caregiver comes each morning for two hours to get my husband up for the day. Our marriage is stronger than it has ever been. The fact that my husband is alive is a miracle. His aorta dissected in 2013 and he had three emergency operations. During the third one he suffered a spinal cord injury, and was told he would never walk again. Today, my husband is able to stand, stand and pivot, and walk the width of our townhome with the aid of a walker. We are grateful for every day, every hour, every moment we have together. In August we celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary. We are blessed.

Harriet


Yes, I think caregiving gives me meaning. I am not always able to change the outcome, but caregiving is showing someone you are “with them in the trenches”.

Amanda


what makes caregiving meaningful? caregivers speak out


Nothing. It is just one long slog.

Lee


Knowing no-one can care for my kids like me.

Tena


Sacrificing “self” for others. Expecting nothing in return from anyone. Knowing that you gave caring and compassion in desperate time of need. Just as Jesus would and has done.

Roy


Knowing that Mom can count on me for the best care. Yes, it’s sometimes frustrating and exhausting but she’s amazingly grateful so the love on both sides outweighs the bad days. ❤️

Doreen


 

Written by Cori Carl
As Director, Cori is an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for people providing care.

Related Articles

Monster-in-Residency

Monster-in-Residency

When Carolita Johnson became a live-in caretaker for her 87-year-old mother, reimagining this new life as a multi-year writing residency helped her...

Being a Human Being

Being a Human Being

"Many of us are programmed to take action. We want to fix. We want to solve. And we take pride in fixing and solving. But sometimes there is nothing...

Popular categories

Finances
Burnout
After Caregiving
Housing
Relationships
Finding Meaning
Planning
Dying
Finding Support
Work
Grief

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts

75 Comments

  1. when u do it with mercy and love for ur very own parents.. and when u can view urself in the same conditions..

    Reply
  2. When I first met the veteran, who eventually became my care recipient, his brain injuries caused his memory and cognitive abilities to decline so much that he was literally losing his mind. The people around him we’re not helping and often made his circumstances worse. He had been homeless and was headed in that direction again. He tried to commit suicide because he couldn’t bare the weight of his condition. Step by step I advocated for his improved health and quality of life. He put his trust in me and did his part by cooperating in treatments for all aspects of his care. We haven’t been able to stop his brain from degenerating, but we have been able to make his world peaceful, safe, bright and full. He has been very happy and child like for over four years. No more nightmares, but lots of hopes and dreams. I’ll do whatever I can keep him out of a nursing home and continue to provide an excellent quality of life in his own home. Helping someone transform their life from chaos to peace and from fear to joy is one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done in my life.

    Reply
  3. No regrets. I miss my Mom, who had Alzheimers, so much. My most meaningful moments are when I know I made a positive difference in her care. Of course I made mistakes … We all do. BUT, always remember that the positive far outweigh the occassional mistakes. Guilt is NOT an option.

    Reply
    • That’s true, no regrets. Everything done, was done from love.

      Reply
  4. Knowing that my baby brother will live his life right here in my home happy healthy and loved for the rest of his life and don’t have to be in one of the NASTY HOSPITALS!!! OR HOMES!!!!!

    Reply
  5. Making sure that your loved one is receiving the best care possible and knowing that they will never be mistreated. I love the look in my brothers eyes when he is watching me prepare something he needs. He has the best hugs in the world.

    Reply
  6. When I see my wifes smile of recognition when she first sees me.

    Reply
  7. I know that my husband is in caring hands and taken care of. He has cared and provided for us with Love all these years, it is our time to take care of him. Well worth every bit of it, when he looks up at us with so much love in his eyes and tells us how much he loves us. I am the principal caregiver, but any of our family can step up if need be and help

    Reply
  8. Because I am helping my husband-the person I love more than anything! And he appreciates it,which makes me happy! He would do the same for me!

    Reply
  9. They’re my kids, no one can or will do better than me

    Reply
  10. Knowing that our brain injuried daughter is taken well taken care of since she can’t talk or do anything herself from an auto accident. Knowing that God gave us this girl to love and care for no matter what condition she is in. Love is taking care of someone you love. To make sure she feels safe even though she can’t speak. You don’t give up on someone even if they aren’t like they were before, they are still the same.

    Reply
  11. holding my mom’s hand as she drew her last breath…

    Reply
  12. Love my husband and want to care for him ‘until death do us part ‘ !!

    Reply
  13. Knowing that I was there for both my mom & dad even though I’ve had to put a lot of my own life on hold and gave up a lot to do what needed to be done for them.

    Reply
  14. Overcoming doctors expectations

    Reply
  15. giving back to elders. being reliable, caring and trustworthy. providing a caring companionship during the hardest part of life.

    Reply
  16. Knowing that I am able to help my husbands life a little easier. Also knoing that he is not in a nursing home. My prayer is that He will never have to go in one. The Dr. Didnt think I could care for him at home, but here we are 9 years. Tomarrow make 10 years after his accident and I am so grateful to have him just as he is. He’s not the same man I married 40 years ago, but he still my honey.

    Reply
  17. Knowing what i do makes a difference

    Reply
  18. I’m thankful I had a part taking care of my mom. I lost her 3 year ago. Would do it again for her if I could. It wasn’t always easy. God got us through one day at a time.

    Reply
  19. I love my son….wouldn’t trust anyone else

    Reply
    • Cheri Cunningham hieeeee. How are you?

      Reply
    • hanging in there..Shaun is doing so well..thanks for sharing his story

      Reply
    • Cheri Cunningham thats all we can do is hang in there and take one day at a time. I do hope Shaun can get his balance back. He tries soooo hard.

      Reply
  20. For me it means my wife won’t be put in a care home as long as I am still alive.

    Reply
  21. I know what the alternatives are, I know how horrible it would be, I know no one is more trustworthy than I am, no better a guardian. As frustrating as it is, it is only a minute in time.

    Reply
    • And you do for your children without thinking ., More than any educated nurse, would do !

      Reply
  22. For me it is knowing that God had prepared me for years to become a caregiver…

    Reply
  23. Before when i cared for LO it was being able to help someone live a more family style life & it gave me a feeling that i had a purpose in life. Now that i am caring for my grandfather, i feel that i can finally thank him for everything he has done for me my entire life! Its a privilege that i will forever be greatful for! ❤

    Reply
  24. It helps me see I am a capable and loving person even if I’m not appreciated for it. In the end I have to be proud of what I’ve done.

    Reply
    • Yes you do, as caregivers very few people see what actually goes into caregiving. They don’t realize that every aspect of the person we’re caring for is our responsibility, it’s not just feeding, bathing, dressing them or giving meds. There are so many other responsibilities involved. Few people think of the many tasks that go along with caregiving. Sometimes it’s almost overwhelming what we do, or have done for our loved one & at times how very overwhelming it can be to us the caregiver! All of us deserve at the very least the right to take pride in what we do. We’re giving another person what others refuse to do, we give them ourselves! Totally, completely & selflessly!

      Reply
  25. i’m looking at it as a daily challenge to change my character. i tend to be impatient and quick tempered. i have had to change.

    Reply
  26. That after 5 strokes and has diabetes..has a very hard time using her whole right side.. That my Mom is here/home with me.. I Thank God every day.. LOVE YOU MOM.. <3

    Reply
  27. It’s knowing that my father is clean well fed and gaining weight he’s happy at home since I retired the first of September things are better and thank God for Maranatha Home Health Care in Tulsa

    Reply
  28. Very little

    Reply
  29. Fulfilling my love and commitment

    Reply
  30. Knowing my mom and dad got the best care I could provide them even though it meant I suffered in the process

    Reply
  31. For me it’s knowing my quadriplegic daughter is well cared for, being watched over & her knowing we love her beyond measure. Also being able to find the means to provide her with her 1 st home of her own w/ 24/7 Care. My daughter is 49 yrs old with 4 adult children , 3 who live in Tx where my daughter had her accident 6 yrs ago. They are all in collage. One now lives here in NC where her mother lives & I & her stepdad live. My daughter lived with us for 4 & 3/4 yrs until my doctors told me I could no longer care for her. She needed a space for her children to come & visit & give her & us some much needed privacy. It’s a win win for all. She’s happy to be as independent as possible & enjoys being the Queen of her own little castle & we’re happy she’s only 7 miles away from us! Of course over see her Care & fill in when I can!

    Reply
    • Mike McGrath You’re welcome.

      Reply
    • Love that story. So glad you all was able to reach the level of independent. You can be at peace your hard work paid off and. Everyone is happy.

      Reply
  32. When Mom says, “I love you.”

    Reply
  33. What makes care giving meaningful? Because it’s the right thing to do. Period.

    Reply
  34. When I finally understood my mom lived a very hard life, mostly untreated, with mental disability, I knew why I had been so protective of her as a small child until present.

    Reply
  35. Knowing that my husband is with his family and not alone.

    Reply
  36. Nothing, if I’m being perfectly honest. It pulled me away from those things- my friends, church, social activities-that brought happiness and meaning to my life. My caregiving role lasted many years and is over now. Only in the last year did I realize I HAD to find friends, a church, new social activities in my parents’ small town if I was going to be able to sustain caregiving long term. It made all the difference. I used to view my role as temporary but that turned into a decade of caregiving. I gave up 9 years of my life but the last year as a caregiver, I actually lived. I hired sitters and learned to take small chunks of time for myself. It’s really hard because there is no time. But I started to die from within because my life was upside down for so long. You have to find a few small activities you can enjoy throughout the week. I had to find new activities and one of my favorite things to do was paint night. I also met one of my new good friends there. This person has even helped me with my mom! You can’t isolate yourself no matter how tempting it is to sleep when you have a couple hours to yourself.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your honest words. I don’t find being my mothers caretaker rewarding.

      Reply
  37. Very very nice mess Shelly love you both

    Reply
  38. And I choose to do this for any family member of mine.more one on one time and care

    Reply
  39. Care giver is a important part in any body’s life i loved all the years

    Reply
  40. Having the opportunity to practice pure compassion. And knowing I can give my mother much more time and attention than a nursing home would.

    Reply
  41. Knowing my mom was receiving the best of care then any facility would had provided for her!

    Reply
  42. I’m blessed to still have my husband.And i know he needs me and i love him

    Reply
  43. My daughter was 43 yrs old when she was in a rollover accident and became a quadriplegic. She lived in Tx. at the time, I lived in NC. As soon as she was able to be put the n an emergency flight she was transferred to NC because Tx offered so few benefits for someone in her condition. I knew her 2grown children & her 2 teenage children were not capable of taking care of her, so with their blessing I brought my single daughter home so she could get all or as much care as possible. We always had a hard time communicating and I knew it would be hard, but what was once a not as close as I would like relationship we have a healthy mother daughter relationship, so that’s what made my experience as her caregiver so meaningful to me. Along with the peace of mind that she will never God willing have to go through not a nursing home!

    Reply
  44. I don’t really feel like my life has meaning. I just feel like I have stuff I have to do.

    Reply
  45. I’m gonna check it out!

    Reply
  46. Buffy Price you’re welcome, this site is a great resource for more than just caregiving

    Reply
  47. Thank you Jill Goodrich

    Reply
  48. to be a life raft in someone else’s stormy sea

    Reply
  49. My mum told me I was her angel

    Reply
  50. Mom’s last cna told me once she didn’t wanted to end up alone like me taking care of mom. I didn’t fired because she made the comment, even though I know I should have. She was ilirate in English, she had only been in the country for a short, and even though she was a doctor in Venezuela via Cuba she couldn’t practice medicine here. I reply to the comment by saying I didn’t want to be me either, but these are the cards I have to deal with and it is about being responsible for those that once took care of us. I would advice caregivers find caring, loving and compassionate people like yourself. Don’t settle for less, if a cna is disrepectul, find another one. You don’t need to put up with abusive from people that don’t have your best interest at heart. Pray for the cna or aid, but let her go if you must. You don’t need someone to drag you down, this is bad enough. Built strong partnerships based on compassion and mutual respect with the people in your circle. Set boundaries from the beginning.

    Reply
  51. Just wish to thank ALL THE HARD WORKING staff that I have worked with over the past 25 years..YOU give so much of yourselves and some days are very trying but you give from the heart❤..thank you for who you are!

    Reply
  52. Knowing that my time as a caregiver made a real difference in my daughters life & gave her her her independence after becoming a quadriplegic when she was in her early 40’s. She loves having her own home for the first time & having the 24/7 care she needs. I’m no longer able to handle her care due to health reasons, I do oversee her care & if necessary I can fill in occasionally. It was a long journey for us but so worth it in the end! I would do it all over again because we learned so much about each other & what we can accomplish together!

    Reply

Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.