Empowering Caregivers During the COVID-19 Crisis
today at 8:14 pm
BY SANDRA GUY
The burden of caregiving has reached a new breaking point for anyone unaccustomed to its daily, exhausting empathic erosion.
November — designated National Family Caregivers’ Month — sets aside time to focus on resources, strategies and coping mechanisms.
But it cannot stop continuing anxieties, including that the U.S. Supreme Court has slated the week after the Nov. 3 presidential election to take up arguments on the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare). As many as 13.3 million Americans — roughly half the population under age 65 — have pre-existing medical conditions that could disqualify them from buying a health insurance policy or requiring them to pay much higher premiums if the court overturns the law, a 2017 government analysis revealed.
At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic’s enormous strain — emotionally, financially and psychologically — seems ever-expanding in new and excruciatingly complex ways: Are the children suffering from social isolation, and is that so debilitating that they must risk getting a life-threatening virus? For those who’ve lost entire careers, how to pivot without spending a fortune on retraining? How to seek medical and psychological help with the barest of healthcare coverage that requires huge out-of-pocket spending? Is working as a lowly paid warehouse worker or online shopping delivery person worth the health risks?
Though the strains weigh on everyone, surveys show women say they’re shouldering more of the daily chores — shopping, cooking, overseeing schoolwork and cleaning house with a coronavirus-resistant vigilance — than are their male partners, if they have a male partner.
And a caregiver who lives alone with the person requiring care suffers even more. That’s when social isolation, financial difficulties and a lack of choice in one’s situation grow even more concerning.
It’s no wonder that caregivers may feel — and should recognize, experts say — feeling overwhelmed, constantly worried, becoming easily irritated, having body and headaches and/or turning to alcohol or medications for comfort.
Though it’s tough to accept help, experts say it’s a huge step in righting one’s mental state.
In fact, why not let friends and family help when they offer? Or make a list of things that they can do to help. Know that you’re doing your best, and work with people who truly want to lend a hand rather than one-up you in terms of being a martyr.
Find or create your own support group, as long as you focus on uplifting each other and solving problems.
And build yourself up: It’s OK to focus on getting a good night’s sleep, sticking to a stringent exercise routine and eating a healthy diet.
And if a male partner is in the home, now’s the time to change the dynamic.
“The stress of being the schoolwork disciplinarian
while working is a new thing [for many dads and male partners],” said Pamela Culpepper, who along with Caroline Dettman and Erin Gallagher, founded “Have Her Back.”
The firm — the only female-owned company backed by advertising-agency holding company InterPublic Group — strategizes on how businesses can evolv the workplace so women thrive.
“People will go back into brick and mortar with a different mindset of how complex and important
shared support is to the working experience,” Culpepper said.