COVID-19 and caregiving
This was shared by a wonderful colleague of mine and I wanted to sharer it with all of you.
I recently read an article on Next Avenue by Sherri Snelling on the topic of caregiving and COVID-19. It referred to the combination of caregiving and COVID-19 as a “toxic cocktail for women.” This phrase struck me right in the gut when I read it, as the majority of care partners that I work with as a dementia coach and educator happen to be female.
The author referred to a new study called The Carer Well-Being Index, which was released near the end of 2020. The study revealed that care partners in our country are spending an average of nearly 8 hours more each week attending to caregiving duties than the 20 hours a week that they were already spending before COVID-19 hit. This number is even higher among employed care partners. The study also found that 13% of respondents became caregivers for the first time since the pandemic, and nearly half of them were unable to see their older loved ones over this past holiday season due to the coronavirus. 74% of female care partners surveyed admitted that they are fearful of contracting this life-threatening virus because they have no back up plan as to who would provide care for their loved one if they became sick or died themselves.
According to the study, two-thirds of care partners agreed that the pandemic has significantly worsened their emotional and mental health, and has made caregiving even harder that it already was before social distancing and the lack of available services, such as home care, day programs and respite became nearly impossible for caregivers to access in recent months. Not to mention the extreme duress that families have been under because of increased social isolation and the inability to visit their loved ones in senior living communities other than by means of a window visit or a video chat over a computer screen. For folks living with any form of dementia, these kinds of social interactions are very confusing at best, and completely bewildering for most people to understand or navigate successfully. As one care partner recently told me: “My brother has absolutely no clue what I am doing outside of the window when I am trying to visit him at his assisted living. He doesn’t know who I am half of the time since I have to wear a mask, and he has no concept of how to communicate with me over FaceTime or Zoom when he can’t even attend to looking at the computer for more than 30 seconds, and because seeing my face on the screen makes no sense to him at all. I’m just so afraid that my brother is going to forget who I am by the time this pandemic finally ends! It is heart-breaking!”
Not surprisingly, The Caregiver Well-Being Index reported that 72% of care partners have experienced increased burnout over the past year due to the countless extra tasks and responsibilities they have been forced to take on as a direct result of COVID-19’s ripple effects. The study emphasized the vital importance of care partners having access to frequent and ongoing emotional support for themselves in order to reduce their own risks of becoming physically ill or of having a mental health crisis of their own during these intensely stressful times.
I have been supporting caregivers in various professional capacities for almost 20 years, and I have personally never seen the likes of the unrelenting pressure that care partners have had to contend with— primarily alone—in the way I’ve witnessed during this profoundly difficult year. I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to provide compassionate, individualized caregiver support and education to the families that I serve in my business. I can honestly say that at times like these, they need me now more than ever.
I am offering FREE 30-minute phone consultations to individuals and families who are in need of caregiver support or education. To schedule, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-875-5508.