Elderly and senior citizens are more vulnerable to Coronavirus and are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. Due to many reasons, such as shared communal system at Nursing Care facilities, underlying health concerns, group activities, part-time staff that’s overworked and exhausted, seniors are more vulnerable to contracting Coronavirus. Many have already succumbed to the deadly virus.
According to a latest article family members are being advised to pull their senior parents or grandparents out of the nursing homes due to the COVID-19 crises. Many of you may find yourselves becoming a family caregiver or caretaker overnight.
Have you ever been a family caregiver for a senior family member? Home caregivers who have previously been caring for a loved one, will suddenly find themselves practicing extra caution around their senior family member. Practicing physical distancing while providing care is a struggle and a challenging task.
Here are some tips for new caregivers:
For new caregivers, who are caring for senior loved ones after bringing them back from the nursing home facility, may face a transition that involves overcoming certain challenges. You may be a daughter or a son looking after their senior parents or ageing grandparents. You could be a young caregiver who is caring for their grandparents or has offered to help a senior relative. Or you could find yourself becoming a caregiver for a family member for the first time.
In all cases, there are some tips and precautions that can be very beneficial and helpful for home and family caregivers:
Look for Caregiver Guidance:
If you have become a caregiver for the first time, you may have a lot of questions and many concerns may be causing confusion. How does one navigate through this new role as a caregiver? What if something goes wrong and what if you feel you won’t be able to do a good job? These are all valid concerns a young or a new caregiver may go through. There are many resources to tap into: you can check some local resources that could offer guidance, or you can check the National Family Caregivers Association or the Family Caregivers Alliance resource section.
You can also reach out to other family members who have been in the same role and may have some great tips to offer. There are many caregiving resources online like blogs, forums, communities that can help answer questions or concerns.
Join Virtual Support Groups:
The power of online communities and support groups is that you don’t have to go anywhere or meet others in person. If your schedule is already hectic and you can’t carve out time to meet fellow caregivers in person, join virtual support groups to share your concerns, questions or experiences. Caregiving.com is a portal with forums, groups, and podcasts that can be helpful. You can also find virtual support groups based on your location or concern. Maybe your senior loved one has a health concern like Arthritis, Parkinsons or Alzheimer’s and you have caregiving questions? Online caregiving support groups can provide benefits that make it a great option for those struggling with certain challenges while caring for an older parent or a senior loved one.
Some benefits of online support groups:
- You can engage with others from the safety of your home
- The credible online support groups are safe to use
- You can ask specific questions and get feedback or advice
- There are no time constraints
- Navigate through different communities
Find Easy Dressing Solutions:
As a caregiver, you may find yourself pressed for time. Adaptive clothing, also known as easy dressing solutions, can help alleviate the struggle of dressing your loved ones. With open-back functionality, adaptive tops provide easy to wear clothing options for your senior loved ones who are in wheelchair or those who choose to opt for self dressing. With easy access options like side open pants or open back tops your elderly parents or grandparents can dress with ease without struggling with narrow openings.
For those in a wheelchair, wheelchair pants with a large back overlap will find themselves in a more secure position because they can get dressed while they are seated. Caregivers and caretakers can reduce dressing time while practicing safe physical distancing measures. With conventional clothing, caregivers and healthcare professionals often find themselves lifting and moving the elderly or their patients to dress them. With adaptive clothing functionality, the individual can remain in place while being dressed.
Do You Need to Make Home-based Modifications?
Before you embark on the new caregiving journey, check if you need any home-based modifications around the house. This step can make the transition easier for you. Do you have your own space where you will need to relax and unwind? As a caregiver, you may also need safety measures around the house for your loved ones.
Some common homecare modifications that can safeguard not just you but your senior loved one’s health include installing grab bars or safety rails for support when getting in and out of the tub. If you are assisting them, grab bars can help you maintain balance and your elderly family members can also use them if they are unassisted. Applying non-slip strips on bathtubs/ shower floors and using bathmats or rugs with non-skid backings can also prove to be very useful. Rearranging will be great for avoiding any accidental bumps or falls. Widening or clearing pathways is a safety measure that will be beneficial for you as a family caregiver and it’ll also safeguard the health of your senior loved ones at home.
Stay Socially Connected:
Staying connected with other family members, relatives and friends is important for caregivers and their mental health. These days there are so many ways of staying in touch with others. Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp call, or Facebook Messenger are some of the commonly used apps for staying connected.
Even if your friends or other family members are far away, you can instantly connect with them, share your concerns or ask for help. If you have a hectic routine, schedule a call or set a reminder so you know its time for you to rest or relax by engaging with a friend. As a caregiver, you can also help your senior loved ones stay connected by introducing them to all these options (if they are not using them already).
Shopping for Essential Items:
You might be inundated with caregiving responsibilities and with social distancing, shopping for essential items can become a challenging and time consuming task. Read our blog post about having access to essentials during the COVID-19 crises.
Stretching and Breathing Exercises:
Self care Caregivers can go through moments of burnout. Deep breathing exercises can prove to be good meditational techniques to relieve some stress. If you are a new caregiver, you may find yourself in a new territory with a lot of questions. Sometimes it takes one quick and hurried move that can be harmful for your back or posture. For example, if your senior loved one fell and you helped them get up, you could put a strain on your back and the pain can last for weeks.
Experts say muscles need flexibility and strength to resist injury. Stretching and strengthening exercises are great ways to achieve those goals and these exercises will help caregivers physical and mental health.
Find a Creative Outlet:
Finding and building on a creative outlet will help caregivers relax and unwind. Dedicate a few minutes (if not more) to creative activities such as bullet journal, painting, sketching, crochet, or anything that you enjoy doing. Do you love reading books? Park your favourite book in an accessible spot as a friendly reminder. Do you like keeping a journal? Sketch your day, write notes, questions, concerns, anything that will be a good cathartic exercise for you. As a caregiver, you may even enjoy interacting with other caregivers via blogging or writing articles. For those who are into digital design, take out a few minutes to practice your graphic design skills on phone apps, that way you can exercise your creative muscles even when you are on the go.
Do you have more ideas that you would like to share with us? Leave a comment and let us know!