The researchers focused on working carers who lived in the same household as the person for whom they provided care. They found that carers reported less stress when they were engaged in work outside the home that provided a respite from their caring role.
Researcher, Professor Carol Kulik, said most of the academic literature assumes that multiple roles have a depleting effect – as people take on more roles, they run the risk of being ‘spread too thinly’ and become more stressed. However, the results suggest that outside work may have a beneficial effect on the caring experience.
It was found that carers of the mentally disabled derived a particularly significant reduction in stress from employment. Perhaps this is because caring for a mentally disabled person can sometimes be more emotionally and financially demanding than caring for someone who has a physical disability. It may also offer fewer opportunities for rewarding personal interactions between the carer and the disabled care recipient.
Since stress levels remained constant for carers of both the physically and intellectually disabled no matter how much or how little they worked, the researchers came to the conclusion that work is generally not harmful in caring situations. Outside work may provide the carer with social interaction and a source of income – benefits that offset many of the challenges associated with caring for a person with a disability.
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