The overwhelming narrative in the U.S. is that caring for older adults is a burden to bear and a problem to be solved. Caregivers often deal with emotional stress of seeing their loved ones struggle, feel guilty that they aren’t doing enough, and make many personal sacrifices, all of which contribute to overwhelming anxiety, depression, and burnout. As the U.S. population ages, the need to support the caregivers in our society is becoming increasingly vital.
Sarah Kanter, author of Positive Caregiving: Caring for Older Loved Ones Using the Power of Positive Emotions, recognized this. Her book offers a practical, research-based methodology towards caregiving by combining elements of positive psychology, mindfulness, reminiscence therapy, and lifestyle medicine. Sarah partnered with Flywheel to develop a companion app to the book, making a positive caregiving experience even more accessible to caregivers.
The app provides a library of shared care partner activities that focus on gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, love, and awe. These five specific positive emotions are central to caregiving relationships and have been shown to improve health, help reduce stress, and create meaning in daily life. Users can search activities based on location, time available, or the desired positive emotion. Each activity includes engaging questions to ignite meaningful conversation, encourage reminiscence and shared moments that strengthen caregiving relationships.
To support self-care and personal development, caregivers can access daily micro-moments, meditations, affirmations, and personal practices. These tools can help them manage stress, improve resilience, inspire positivity, and embrace mindfulness as a part of their daily routine. In times when they feel overwhelmed, caregivers can use the “Breathe with Me” tool to help slow and calm their breath.
Users have the ability to create a Care Album of photos taken during a shared activity and journal entries describing a meaningful conversation, complete with date and time stamps. This allows caregivers to document these cherished moments and reflect on their caregiving journey.
Through the successful launch of the book and the companion app, Positive Caregiving is changing the caregiving narrative by empowering caregivers to embrace, celebrate, and honor their critical role in modern society . The launch of Positive Caregiving Plus, a more robust and enhanced version of the app, is currently planned for November 2023. In addition to the features of the existing app, the new version will have 150 shared activities and 150 caregiver personal practices, as well as new activities and personal practices added monthly.