Caring for the COVID-19 Caregivers

Mar 20th, 2020

Managing Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Providing full- or part-time care for a loved one managing mental health challenges like depression, anxiety or the behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be overwhelming. Providing care in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic can dramatically increase feelings of overwhelm and stress. 

Caregiving often involves long hours managing medications, providing physical support, navigating complex health conditions and juggling other family and career obligations. Add to that the stress of ensuring those with mental health challenges remember to wash their hands, stay healthy and remain socially connected despite calls for social distancing, it can be easy for caregivers to experience burnout and forget to take care of themselves, too.

If you are caring for a patient, resident or loved one during the coronavirus outbreak, consider these tips to support your own mental health:

  1. Take a Break from the News: While it is important to stay informed during this time, too much information about the pandemic can be upsetting. Take periodic breaks from watching, reading or listening to the news.
  2. Pause Social Media: For the same reasons the news can be upsetting, social media can cause stress and anxiety as well. Step away from social media periodically to give yourself a break from the information overload.
  3. Take Care of Your Own Health: Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  4. Find Ways to Relax: Squeeze in a moment to read, stretch and breathe. Relaxation techniques like meditation and visualization can help to ease stress.
  5. Connect with Others: Find ways to connect to friends, loved ones or others with shared experiences to maintain social interactions while practicing social distancing. Video calls, text messages and phone calls with others can help you feel grounded.
  6. Join an Online Support Group: Finding an online group of like-minded people navigating the same challenge can be helpful for crowdsourcing answers to difficult questions and providing a judgment-free space to vent.
  7. Make a (Flexible) PlanEstablishing routines is essential to caring for an aging individual managing behavioral health challenges. Think ahead and make alternate plans for doctor’s appointments, adult day care, meal delivery or other plans should they be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
  8. Seek Help for Yourself When Needed: If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor to find help for yourself. Caring for yourself is an important part of caring for others.

Finally, keep in mind that you’re trying your best and your loved one is grateful, even if they can’t express it. Should behavioral symptoms become unmanageable, seek assistance from an experienced geriatric mental health treatment provider like Oceans Behavioral Hospital.

Oceans is passionate about helping older adults and seniors experiencing depression, anxiety, behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and other mental health issues. Utilizing proven, innovative and progressive therapies, Oceans’ qualified professionals strive to promote long-term wellness through a range of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric counseling and treatment options.

 

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