Caregiving During A Pandemic
If you’re a caregiver of an older person, this period will be even more challenging. It can be lonelier now that we have to limit our interaction with other people. Thus, you may have to work twice as hard as their caregiver now. You have to foster them more and adjust to their needs with extra care. Here are some tips for you on how you can handle caregiving during a pandemic.
Limit In-Person Visits
The best way for seniors who have limited mobility to practice social distancing is to limit in-person visits. Since elders spend most of their time at home or elderly facilities, it will limit their exposure to illnesses.
This situation may be tough for elders because it reduces the time spent with friends and family members significantly. Being isolated from other people can negatively impact their mental and emotional health twice as other age groups. And so, as their caregiver, you can come up with ways on how you can keep them engaged and entertained.
Encourage them to connect beyond their usual family and friend circles. You can play simple games with them, read them their favorite book, or find them a hobby that doesn’t require much physical effort.
Social distancing isn’t equivalent to social isolation, per se. There are still ways for them to feel a sense of connectedness with their loved ones or even make new friends.
What can you do to help them find their purpose and feel less lonely during this time? You can improve an older person’s access to online services that can help them reach out to their loved ones. Here are some ideas:
- Set up a video chat with their loved ones. Also, try to teach them how to use it themselves so they can reach out to their friends and family anytime they want.
- Join an online support program and involve them in the conversation.
- If you’re caring for an elder with hearing challenges, you can use apps to provide captions.
- Communicate with their loved ones and encourage them to send cards or call more often to uplift their spirit.
Make Them Feel Involved
If the elder can still move around, let them help with chores and household activities. Offer them help if they need it, but show and let them feel that they are involved. It will make them feel empowered and distract them from feelings of loneliness at the same time.
You can also engage them in projects that they can work on to pass the time meaningfully. It can be an excellent time for them to share their secret cooking recipe and tips. Or, you can create a scrapbook and organize old photos together, and then encourage them to share their stories and memories.
Playing their favorite songs and movies is also an excellent way to keep them involved. It will make them reminisce about their younger years while being with you at the same time.
COVID-19 Guidelines For Caregivers
Older people are immunocompromised. Hence, now that the world is facing a pandemic, they are the people who are most vulnerable to contracting the illness. Compared to other age groups, adults ages 60 and older with preexisting medical conditions are more likely to be infected with the coronavirus. What are the things you can do to minimize this risk?
- Postpone unnecessary doctor visits. Rather than going on regular check-ups and doctor visits, you can opt for telemedicine instead. Telehealthcare is a way for patients to seek consultation from their doctors over electronic means rather than face-to-face.
- Postpone non-essential travel. If it’s not urgent, put off a trip that would expose the elderly to crowds.
- Pick an emergency contact. Designate someone whom you could rely on in case of emergencies.
- Stock up. Store essential medications, food supply, and other essentials in advance. Also, list down the available delivery services in your area in case you run out of supply.
Care For Yourself Too
You will not be able to provide the best care without taking care of yourself first. Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health.
Reach out to your loved ones or online support groups. “It’s so important to have conversations with people in similar circumstances. It helps normalize your own experience and reactions so you don’t feel guilty about your emotions,” says clinical psychologist and family therapist Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D.
Caregiving is not an easy job. It is easy to feel lonely and helpless to care for another person by yourself. Now, it is made even harder because of the challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us. But there are ways to ease both your worries and the worries of the person you’re tending to.