When the pandemic started, many adults were faced with the decision of how to best care for their older relatives. Suddenly, allowing seniors to remain in their homes, rehabilitation centres, and assisted living facilities weren’t safe. Feeling as if they had no other choice, many decided to move them into the house. Not fully understanding the magnitude of becoming a caretaker, many adults are feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
Adding another member to the household, particularly, someone with special needs, comes with a lot of responsibilities. If not properly prepared for these changes, it can lead to a physical and emotional shutdown. If you or someone you know is experiencing caretaker stress, these solutions can help you cope.
Trying to take this responsibility on by yourself is daunting. If you want to reduce your stress, the best option is to ask for help. Talk with other members of your family to see how they can pitch in to care for your ageing loved ones. Whether they assist you financially or volunteer their time and resources, it allows you to breathe a sigh of relief.
If your relatives aren’t able to help, don’t give up. Believe it or not, there are ways to make caring for a senior during the pandemic easier. There are affordable healthcare options, transportation services, nutrition and dietary programs, and other private, government, and non-profit resources you can tap into.
Home health aide services are also an option. An experienced nursing professional would visit your home on a full or part-time basis to provide assistance. They can help with cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene, medication, and mobility issues. Their services would lighten your load allowing you to focus on yourself and other members of your family.
Take care of yourself
When you’re tending to the needs of your ageing relatives it can be easy to neglect your own needs. Be that as it may, failure to take care of yourself will eventually cause you to break down. Your mind and body won’t be able to handle the stresses of a caretaker, making it difficult to be there for anyone.
You must prioritise your health. Ensure that you’re eating well-balanced meals, exercising, and getting enough rest. You should also find time to do things you enjoy and take a break to avoid burnout or resentment.
Applying structure to your day can alleviate stress. If you haven’t done so already, develop routines that allow you to complete your obligations. You can use apps, calendars, and alarms to get organized and stay on track. As you’re creating routines, look into services that can make things easier for everyone.
Meal kit services, for example, would reduce the stress of preparing meals. Hiring a cleaning service for weekly cleanings ensures you have a clean, safe, healthy space for you and your family to reside. Lastly, online shopping and delivery services could reduce your trips for everything from medication to food.
Talk to someone
Despite the many resources and strategies available to reduce caretaker stress, it can still be a lot to deal with. If you feel as if these dramatic changes are causing you emotional or physical harm, you may need to talk to someone. A therapist can help you learn healthy coping mechanisms for stress while also giving you insight on how to make your current living situation more comfortable. There are also support groups for caregivers that you can join to get advice, emotional support, and companionship from.
Leaving your ageing relative to fend for themselves amid a pandemic isn’t an option. As such, you took on the responsibility to care for them in your homes. While this is a noble and sometimes necessary step, it is a lot to handle. After a while, it takes a toll on you physically, emotionally, and financially which can ultimately disrupt your personal and professional life. If you’ve found yourself feeling overwhelmed while caring for a senior during the pandemic, use the solutions above to cope.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.