Farran went on to say, "while there is nothing inherently wrong with this perspective , it has not been entirely successful in helping us understand the whole, and particularly, how it is that caregivers make sense out of, and even develop positive perspectives through these experiences.”
Enter a new perspective. Farrah took an entirely different approach to studying caregivers, “... a fresh theoretical view, a new research design, or a humble admission that some questions will never be entirely answered.”(1)
Farrah proposed an existential approach, the application of the question, “What does it mean to exist and be human,” to a clinical problem, caregiver stress.
In the former model, caregivers would identify their stressors and level of stress.
An existential model explores values and feelings. Being immersed in caregiving gives caregivers the opportunity to reevaluate their values, beliefs, relationships, freedom of choice, responsibility, and consequences of actions..(1)
The existential model is less clinical and more moral. Freedom gives us the choice to help or not, a choice with moral repercussions.
This has proven true in Gail’s family.
“Caregiving has given me the self-satisfaction that I am helping my parents,” she said. “This is only a small portion of my life that I am dedicating to helping them. They really need me at this time, and I am happy I can help. ”
The endless responsibilities have brought Gail and her sisters closer. They’ve learned to make difficult decisions under pressure and have realized they work well together, fortifying their relationship.
Positive outcomes of caregiving include benefits, enjoyment, gratification, growth, meaning, rewards, a sense of satisfaction and emotional uplifts.(1)
“Even after waking up three or more times at night with my mom to help her to the bathroom, I still value my time with her during these hardest moments,” Gail said.
Despite the physical and cognitive losses imposed by dementia, Gail’s mother has not relinquished her role.
1) Theoretical Perspectives Concerning Positive Aspects of Caring for Elderly PersonsWith Dementia: Stress/Adaptation and Existentialism. gerontologist.OxfordJournals.com. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
2) Stuart Stress Adaptation Model NursingPlanet.com. Retrieved July 26, 2016.