November is National Family Caregivers Month. It’s a time to honor the more than 40 million caregivers across the country. While resources are available for these selfless individuals, a new AARP revealed that almost 1 in 10 said they had no one to talk to about private matters, and 1 in 5 said they had no one to call for help.
AARP national family and caregiving expert Amy Goyer said caregiving duties look a little different this year. She noted that caregivers have always been isolated due to their caregiving duties, but they are even more isolated with the pandemic.
“Friendships ten to fall by the wayside, and you’re not connecting with as many people, and now with the pandemic, it’s even harder,” said Goyer. “You have more people not getting out or going to the grocery store because they’re trying to protect their loved ones.”
Isolation is not suitable for our mental or physical health, said Goyer. She adds some caregivers are not getting breaks, which can lead to added stress and possible illnesses.
“Maybe they had someone come in to help take care of their loved one(s), and they were getting a break and doing other things,” said Goyer. “Now they’re not getting that. Or caregivers, like I was, working at home and caring for a loved one. When usually, going to work was a bit of a break for them.”
Making a caregiving plan is essential in the success of the work a caregiver does. The thing to remember, Goyer said, is that sometimes you have to adjust those plans. Now, with the pandemic, you really have to adjust those plans.
“One of the things you may need to do is adjust your team. Who is going to do the shopping? Who is going to do the outside work? Maybe this year, you have someone put up the holiday decorations, do window visits, deliver meals, you have to adjust,” said Goyer.
Typically, Goyer said, you hear people say they are not getting help from family, but the pandemic has changed that.
“During the pandemic, I am hearing that people are more willing to help care for loved ones. A, they may have more time on their hands? Also, people have a sense of being in this thing together,” said Goyer. “If the person you care for lives alone, make sure to take an inventory of the food and medical supplies, masks, and other supplies they may need.”