Over the last few months, almost every aspect of life has been affected by the impacts of COVID-19. Whether you’re adjusting to working remotely, balancing working with kids or navigating a caregiving situation, we’re all facing new challenges and unanswered questions.
Balancing career and caregiving can be challenging during the best of times, but the current situation with COVID-19 adds an additional layer of complexity.
That’s why we reached out to Kim Andreaus, one of our Work/Life center’s program managers. She’s dedicated to supporting our employee caregivers and their families and has a wealth of knowledge to share.
Read on to hear her tips for managing your stress as a caregiver during this time.
Kim’s Tips for Caregivers
The demands, level of unpredictability and the resulting stressors of caregiving increase exponentially during a pandemic. “Research abounds describing the link between stress and illness,” Kim shares. “It’s vital to find ways to care for yourself to avoid caregiver burnout.”
Self-care comes in many forms, but the core components of diet, exercise and quality sleep are essential. Set aside time for yourself to stay energized, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Even during a pandemic, both professional and personal resources are available to help with caregiving. In-home agencies are implementing increased protocols to protect themselves and those they care for. Take a moment to think about what you can delegate. Are there practical tasks that can be managed by others, such as family members or friends? “One example of this might be asking a family member with legal experience to assist with advance care planning, or to sign up for online grocery delivery,” Kim says.
3. Be Flexible
While working from home can present challenges with caregiving, a benefit is that you may have more flexibility in your work schedule. If you can, plan your work around any “down” time that’s available, when your loved one may not need as much assistance or during a rest period.
4. Stay Connected
While it’s important to remain physically distant during this time, social connection is more important than ever. There are several caregiver support options available, from help lines to virtual support groups. “These are great resources,” Kim reiterates, “But a daily phone call with a friend can be equally therapeutic.”
5. Get Creative
For more tips for caregiving during the COVID-19 crisis, Kim tapped her employee Caregiver Support Groups. These groups meet regularly to share ideas, resources and support related to caregiving, and have been (virtually) active during this time of change.
Here are a few of their suggestions for creative caregiving during this time…
- Keep spirits high by sharing funny or happy stories with your loved one.
- If you have an Alexa Show or similar device, update photos regularly. “My mom gets a new picture from my sister-in-law every day and really enjoys the photos,” says one employee.
- Send favorite food or snack items via Amazon Prime or other contactless delivery services.
- If your loved one is receiving care in a group residence, see if you can identify a couple of employees (physical therapist, occupational therapist, or management) that you can contact quickly to check in or help if needed. “My mom’s CPAP machine stopped working recently and I couldn’t troubleshoot remotely,” one employee shares. “One of the OT people discovered a loose connection and fixed it for her.”
- Think positively! While disruptive and challenging, remember that our current situation won’t last forever.
Of course, every care giving situation is unique, and not every idea will work for everyone. We hope these ideas and resources will help you and your loved ones as you navigate this new, temporary “normal.”
Thank you, Kim, for sharing your tips! If you’re a caregiver, what’s working for you during this time? Share your tips, stories and encouraging words in the comments.
For more resources on caregiving, check out Kim’s blogs.