Caregiving: Trusting in Self

Dementia caregivers coped better when they believed in themselves and were spiritual

(RxWiki News) Caring for a loved one with dementia can be stressful. Believing in yourself and having spiritual beliefs may help offset some of the stress. A recent study found that two qualities worked together to help dementia caregivers deal with stress.

These researchers said people who had high levels of belief in their own ability and had strong spiritual interests had fewer depression symptoms.

The study's conclusion says trusting yourself and your spirituality may help protect you from the stress of caregiving.

"Take time to take care of yourself."

Researchers, led by Javier López, Director of the Department of Psychology at the Universidad San Pablo CEU Montepríncipe campus in Madrid, Spain, wanted to see how spirituality and self-efficacy influenced the well-being of caregivers.

Spirituality is connecting to something bigger than yourself. It can come in the form of religious activities, meditation and other practices.

Self-efficacy is the belief that you can do something, accomplish a task or reach a goal.

The researchers conducted 122 interviews with caregivers who had a family member with dementia. They asked the caregivers about the stresses they experienced while caregiving. They also asked them how much they relied on spiritual beliefs or practices to deal with stress.

Using pretend situations, they found out how caregivers felt about their own self-efficacy in dealing with the stressful situations, like those common to caregiving. Depression and anxiety symptoms for the caregivers were also measured.

They found that all the caregivers in the study had similar levels of stress in their caregiving duties.

However, people who had both high self-efficacy and high spirituality had the lowest depression scores.

In other words, people who believed in their caregiving abilities and who had a strong spiritual connection displayed fewer depression symptoms.

Having a lot of belief in your own abilities or high levels of spirituality alone were not enough to offer protection. The authors concluded that self-efficacy and spirituality work together to protect caregivers' mental health.

The authors said, “The current study is an important first step in understanding the combined effect of spirituality and self-efficacy and its relationship to the emotional functioning of dementia caregivers.”

This study was published August 2 in International Psychogeriatrics. The study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education.

The authors report no competing interests.

Review Date: 
November 2, 2012