By Garrett Simmons
Caregiving for a family member can be very rewarding.
However, it can also be tiring, demanding work.
The COVID-19 pandemic brings other factors into the equation, according to Family and Community Support Services Volunteer Services Co-ordinator Cindy Lauwen, who said caregivers must now contend with a variety of unique challenges, on top of an already full plate.
Lauwen added options do exist for caregivers to help navigate difficulties they may encounter in providing assistance during a pandemic.
“Make time for self-care,” Lauwen suggested. “You need to take care of yourself before you can effectively care for someone else. That could mean taking a walk, reading a book, watching your favourite TV show – anything to improve and maintain your well-being.”
Reaching out to fellow caregivers is another important way to build your support system, she added.
“If you have other caregivers in your life, connect with them. No one understands the challenges better than another caregiver.”
Despite our best efforts to plan for the best possible care for a family member, Lauwen added it’s common for situations to change. Unforeseen circumstances can also require caregivers to make last-second adjustments.
“Have a back-up plan should you as the caregiver become ill or need to self-isolate,” she said. “Ask trusted family members and friends if they can step in to help if needed. Consider creating a binder/booklet with all the information someone would need to take over your caregiver role. Include medications, schedules, contact information of doctors and other health care providers, medical records and any other pertinent information that person may need.”
Staying connected is also critical, as physical-distancing protocols can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. With that in mind, technology can be a helpful tool in bridging that gap as we continue to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although the thought of utilizing new technology can be stressful, there are many options available, from tablets, to smartphones to personal-assistant devices,” said Lauwen. “Consider what might work best for your situation.”
In one of the Taber senior housing facilities, for example, a family purchased a tablet for a loved one, to help them stay connected. Zoom calls for special occasions, such as holiday dinners, are another way people have used technology to stay connected, Lauwen added.
Drawing upon past resilience can go a long way toward reminding yourself of all the obstacles and challenges you have overcome to this point.
“While COVID-19 has caused us to live in unprecedented times, as a caregiver, this is not the first time you’ve had to adjust your routine,” said Lauwen.
She added caregivers certainly don’t have to go it alone, as there are many resources available to help you along the way.
“Many organizations offer services and support to caregivers,” said Lauwen. “As a caregiver, if you find it difficult to leave your home, many provide services online or via phone.”
For example, Barons Eureka Warner FCSS Seniors Services can assist caregivers in finding services, support and resources in your area. Seniors services is a quick call away at 403-915-7063.
For more information on this article, reach out to the FCSS Volunteer Services Co-ordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org