Taking Care of the Caregivers During COVID-19

Taking Care of the Caregivers During COVID-19

A caregiver’s responsibility is demanding and difficult under normal circumstances, but COVID-19 has added a level of stress making caregiving an even more difficult role. COVID-19 has turned some individuals into caregivers overnight. For those who have been involved with providing caregiving services for some time, the current effect of COVID-19 has added a whole new element of concern.

Caregiving burnout is now having significant implications. If you’re able to have added support from other family members or friends that’s great, but not everyone is that fortunate. Even those who have that added caregiving back-up are experiencing burnout.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. Caregivers who are stressed may experience fatigue, anxiety and depression. Those caregivers are now being tasked with taking care of household duties, keeping food and household supplies readily stocked, all while now being forced into social distancing with family, neighbors and friends.

Making Life Easier For Caregivers

If you are the main caregiver in your home, or if you know of others handling caregiving responsibilities alone, what can you do to make life a little brighter for you and them? Here’s a list of helpful activities that can help to reduce stress and help you feel rejuvenated.

– Taking a walk is a simple activity that can work wonders. Walking helps to lower stress levels and can uplift your mood. Walking has also been shown to have a positive effect on reducing the risk of diabetes and cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep you mentally sharp. Ask a family member or friend to take over for a few minutes, step outside and take some deep breaths.

– Take time to meditate. Despite common beliefs, meditating doesn’t mean you have to empty your mind of all relative thoughts, it’s the simple act of letting thoughts flow freely throughout your mind without making judgements or acting on them. You need only to find a quiet place where you can allow your mind to focus on your thoughts.

– Read an article or book, reading is a great way to divert your mind and reduce stressful thoughts. Reading stimulates your mental health, whether you prefer light reading, or opt for something more a bit heavier.

– Watch a favorite TV show to help you unwind and relax. Do this with your loved one you’re caring for and select programs that may be uplifting for the both of you. This could be a perfect time to binge watch multi series shows and will help to make the day go by.

– Spend some time creating arts and crafts, art has a healing and therapeutic advantage on the mind. Sketching is a great way to express yourself and there is no right or wrong method of sketching, it simply increases feelings of pleasure and happiness while reducing anxiety and caregiver burnout.

– Writing down your feelings is also a proven way to unwind for many people, it’s a form of expression and a way to share your feelings and thoughts. Create a daily account of your caregiving thoughts and impressions to help you better serve and care for the loved one you are caring for, as well as for yourself.

– Overwhelmed caregivers may feel distant from family or friends, this is a great time to talk to your friends and family to share your feelings. You may feel others won’t understand what you’re going through, or you may feel guilty for sharing your true emotions. Caregivers sometime get lost in their own world and they sometime lose touch with friendships that have been very important to them. Friends can help serve to pick up your spirits and give you a different perspective to help you through this difficult time.

In order to be an effective caregiver, especially during these trying COVID-19 times, one must first make sure to focus on their own well being in order to negotiate the critical care and responsibilities needed to fulfill their caregiving duties.

Loneliness In Seniors

Loneliness In Seniors

Many changes contribute to a more solitary life for aging seniors. One of the most significant factors is the shrinking of their social circle as they grow older. Although retirement brings about more free time for favorite hobbies and relaxation, retirement also ends significant interactions with former business colleagues and associates on a regular basis.

In many cases friends, significant others and family members may move away or pass away. It can even become more difficult for friends living close by to get together due to the increasing issues of changes to mobility, especially if the ability to drive is halted due to safety issues. When you add the increasing age related issues such as hearing loss and eye diseases, communication can be made so difficult that seniors feel it may not be worth the effort to stay socially engaged.

Many seniors with serious medical conditions face not only logistical issues but are also embarrassed and insecure when leaving their homes. Problems such as incontinence can create complications to their social life. The need to use medical equipment like oxygen therapy and mobility aids affect their self confidence in public. It’s difficult enough for seniors to maintain their healthy relationships facing these challenges, but when their entire peer group is also being faced with these factors, it can be difficult to keep in touch with friends on a regular basis.

Effects of Loneliness on Seniors

The lack of fulfilling personal relationships for the elderly affects their mental and emotional health and can have a drastic impact on their overall physical health. The feeling of loneliness is a risk factor for mortality among both elderly men and women. Feeling lonely places these seniors at higher risk for their functional decline in addition to the increased risk of death. Loneliness raises the levels of stress which in turn impairs their body’s immune system. Prolonged loneliness can leave seniors vulnerable to mental health issues like anxiety, depression and chronic conditions like heart disease and obesity. Researchers have found there are associations between feelings of social detachment and the development of Alzheimer’s.

How to Alleviate Loneliness

If your love one is feeling socially isolated or lonely, consider using some of the tips below to assist them to feel more connected and supported:

Listen and observe – Encourage someone you care about to express their feelings and thoughts on their interests.

Minimize their isolation – Create a personalized plan to provide them an outlet for their interests. They may need a push to get them into a comfort zone to explore these interests.

Allow them to teach – Seniors can feel fulfilled by passing along their lifelong knowledge to their loved ones and friends. This can provide stronger bonding and restore balance to the child-parent dynamic perhaps lost once caregiving began.

Close the generation gap – Caregivers can play an important role in nourishing relationships between seniors and their younger relatives. Devise ways of helping multiple family generations spend time together.

Simple thoughts – Seniors appreciate small gestures like receiving a card in the mail or a short phone call. Any attention they can receive gives them the feeling they are not being forgotten.

Senior living – Perhaps no effort to encourage a senior to become more social will work, at this point senior living should be considered. Moving to a senior living facility may sound like a good idea, but the adjustment could be stressful. Gentle encouragement is needed to assist them into their transition. The best part of senior living facilities, other than receiving care, is the opportunity for them to socialize and have all their daily needs met.


Moving into Independent Living Communities

Moving into Independent Living Communities

The majority of seniors who live in independent living communities are active and mobile. Generally, less than 10% of all residents living in independent communities use walkers or wheelchairs. It is important to know that independent residences do not provide healthcare services.

There are several types of independent living communities ranging from age restricted apartment complexes and cottages, to planned retirement communities catering to active older adults. For many independent communities amenities include a club house, library, community center or fitness room. Independent communities differ from senior apartments or 55+ communities in that most provide meal service, housekeeping or transportation.

Typical Amenities Found in Independent Communities

– Community events
– Daily activities
– Concierge service
– Local transportation
– Linen and laundry services
– Library
– 24-hour security
– Computer access- Swimming pool
– Fitness facilities
– Golf or tennis courts
– Beauty salon/barber services
– Garden/walking paths

Selecting an Independent Living Community

In selecting an independent community, seniors should use the same decision making process they used in selecting a new home. Location of the community is one of the first key factors, one must consider if the community is close to a shopping center, golf course or park, and entertainment venues. Generally, transportation that is provided is offered only within a specific mile radius.

The price of the independent community is an important factor, seniors should consider if they will use all of the services provided to justify the monthly cost.

Will you need the monthly cost of a meal plan if you are planning to cook some of your own meals? The monthly cost of living in your community may be a shock after the many years of not having to pay a mortgage, however you will no longer be paying for utility, property taxes or home upkeep repairs.

Touring Independent Communities

Narrowing your choices of communities and conducting tours at varied times of the day is highly recommended, this will give you the opportunity to observe the staff members interacting with their residents. Talk to the residents to gauge their thoughts and impressions. Look to see if there appears to be a true sense of positive community feeling among the residents.

It is not only important to tour communities, but it’s equally important to check the local code enforcement agencies to look for any past recorded health or fire violations of the particular community.

Life in Your New Community

Your pre-planning strategies before moving into your new community will soften your move-in adjustment period. Just as it took you time to adjust to a new community when you moved into a new home, this transition won’t be easy at first. Once moved in, you will discover new community support groups, staff and friends who will help you ease into your new life of independent community living.

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