Caregiving for seniors is stressful under normal circumstances, and this may be further amplified during this COVID-19 pandemic period. There are worries about contracting the virus, as well as concerns about adhering to circuit breaker rules and having access to community support services. Here are some tips for caregivers in these challenging times:
Educate our seniors
Explain to them the importance of staying at home, safe distancing and good personal hygiene. This can empower them and reduce any confusion they may have about the situation.
Maintain routine and familiarity
Changes in care arrangements can be difficult to deal with. Stick to a routine, and go with the usual time to wake up, have meals, and go to bed. Engage our seniors in small and achievable activities. Arts and crafts, folding laundry, playing familiar music, singing, or watching old movies can be a lot of fun.
Show seniors how to use technology. Help them to set up video-chat features so they can keep in touch with others via smartphones, laptops or tablets. You can also call your loved ones to keep the social interactions and communication going.
Cancel non-essential doctor’s appointments
Ask your doctor for more medication so you can reduce the number of trips you need to take to the clinic.
Remind seniors to wash their hands and take other recommended precautions. Putting up notes around the house can help too.
Discuss and make alternative plans with family and relatives as a contingency, in case the primary caregiver gets sick. Multi-generational families could consider practising physical distancing at home.
Stay informed and in touch
Get up-to-date information about local COVID-19 developments from trusted sources. Set aside a 30-minute limit to update yourself on recent happenings.
3Cs for Caregivers’ Self-Care
Care for yourself so you can care for others. Prioritise your basic needs, and employ helpful coping strategies. In addition to healthy eating, it is important to get enough sleep and engage in physical activities that nurture and refuel yourself emotionally. Take time to relax and do the things that help you to feel calm.
Stay connected with others and talk to people you trust about your concerns and feelings. Make a list of the people you can reach out to on a regular basis. Consider calling a helpline if you find yourself getting increasingly stressed and unable to cope with the situation.
Take a step back, and consider where we can make decisions and take positive actions. We will feel more at peace (and less worried!) when we recognise that we can play an active role in helping ourselves, our families, and our communities.
The contributor is a Psychiatrist and Visiting Consultant at the Agency for Integrated Care.