By Roberta L. Nestor
For 8 of the last 10 years, I have written the praises for our caregivers in recognition of National Caregivers Month. This year, I am at a loss for words that could possibly express the thanks and gratitude that go out to our nation’s caregivers. It is hard to imagine the strain that the pandemic has caused for these selfless individuals and their families.
The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving recently published “Caregivers in Crisis: Caregiving in the Time of COVID 19” and while not surprising, their surveys tells a sad tale.
- 83% of caregivers surveyed reported increased stress related to caregiving since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- 42% noted that the number of other caregivers available to help them has declined during the pandemic;
- Isolation, increased burden resulting from additional caregiving/household responsibilities, and worry about getting infected or a family member becoming infected with COVID-19 were key sources of stress;
- Financial concerns, instability, and resource insecurity were also a source of stress.
There is no single solution that is sufficient in helping caregivers weather this storm. Research in the field has identified many of the challenges and stressors identified in this report but clearly there is a mental health crisis that has been exacerbated and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are numerous reasons why you might not be able to be there for a loved one: Nursing and medical facilities now have visitor restrictions; you work at a high-risk COVID workplace; you have children in school and fear potentially infecting a loved one or, you can no longer travel to that state due to travel bans. No matter, the reason, there are plenty of things you can still do. Here is what we have learned from our clients and families who have a loved one that they can’t visit:
- Zoom often has more successful results than a smart phone. Smartphones are challenging for most older adults, let alone somebody who may have physical disabilities. Nurses will assist with Zoom and they can see you without the frustration of trying to figure out how to use the phone.
- You can still drop off their favorite foods, you can drop off homecooked meals (just check any healthcare/nursing home’s policies first) or use an online restaurant delivery service to get them something special.
- Try baking virtually with them – they can give you the recipe and you can make a family tradition together or have a virtual bake-off!
- Nothing nicer than receiving a good old-fashioned card or handwritten letter updating your loved one on your life and including an actual picture, maybe even in a small frame.
- If you live close by, simply helping them out with getting groceries, picking up prescriptions, or any items they may need can go a long way. If you can’t do it in-person, you can always get it delivered, too.
- Going to the movies or watching a family-favorite show might not be possible in real life, but you can always video-chat and watch a show together.
- Above all, find means to stay in constant contact with your loved ones.
Caregiving has never been easy and with today’s challenges it can be overwhelming. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. It is okay to take time for self-care and it is necessary to stay as healthy and as positive as possible. A very, very, special thank you to our Nation’s Caregivers.
Roberta L. Nestor is a financial advisor practicing at 759 Boston Post Road in Milford, CT offering retirement, long term care, investment, and tax planning services. She offers securities and advisory services as a Registered Representative and Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network – a member FINRA/SIPC and a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed insurance products offered through Nestor Financial Network are separate and unrelated to Commonwealth. Commonwealth Financial Network or Nestor Financial Network does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult a legal or tax professional regarding your individual situation. Roberta can be reached at Nestor Financial Network, 203-876-8066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.