What is Pandemic Fatigue for Senior Caregivers?
Caring for our loved ones as they age is never easy. There are tons of factors that can make it taxing physically, mentally, financially, and more for both the caregiver and the one receiving care. This has always been the case, but with the emergence of COVID-19, things have only gotten more difficult. Many of us, especially caregivers for older adults, are feeling a real sense of burnout due to Coronavirus, also referred to as pandemic fatigue. Today we will be covering pandemic fatigue in more detail, recommending coping strategies, and discussing care options at Garnet Hill Rehabilitation and Skilled Care.
What is Pandemic Fatigue?
When we began seeing increased COVID-19 rates in the United States back in March, many people stayed home as much as possible to slow the spread and protect those they live with, especially those in vulnerable populations like older adults. Seven months later, it often feels less urgent to stay home, despite higher rates of COVID-19 than ever in the U.S. People are coping with the loss of their loved ones, jobs, or housing, and many live in a constant state of anxiety about getting sick. One group of people that are hit especially hard by Coronavirus spikes are caregivers of older adults, as they risk their lives, and the lives of their aging loved ones, every time they have to leave the home while COVID-19 rages on.
Many of these caregivers still have to go to work to support their own kids, and relief has been hard to come by in recent months.
The combination of all of these fears, frustrations, and losses contribute to what we now refer to as pandemic fatigue. Pandemic fatigue can also be thought of as burnout from being pulled in all different directions while also feeling isolated from the outside world. Pandemic fatigue can put our mental and physical health at risk, affecting the quality of our work, caregiving, and lifestyle.
How Can I Cope with Pandemic Fatigue?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to overcome pandemic fatigue, empowering you to stay as relaxed, calm, and collected as possible.
One major reason why pandemic fatigue has grabbed a hold of so many of us is the lingering feeling of isolation and loneliness. We may not be able to host or attend gatherings like many of us used to, but that doesn’t mean we cannot stay connected with friends and family members.
Staying connected not only helps us preserve our mental health, talking to friends and family can help us express built up feelings and work through our struggles. Even if you don’t explicitly talk about your problems, feeling connected and supported is just as important too.
Try the following to get in touch with friends and family during the pandemic:
- Going for a socially-distanced hike or nature walk with a loved one
- Setting up recurring virtual hangouts or dates
- Writing letters or sending cards to people to tell them you’re thinking of them
- Hosting a socially-distant outdoor get together, like a bonfire or takeout meal
If you don’t feel that you have anyone you can talk to, give Crisis Text Line a try. Text HOME to 741741 to get in touch with a trained crisis counselor 24/7. Their counselors will listen to your struggles, walk you through coping strategies, and provide relevant resources if applicable. It’s free, and their goal is to help people go from “a hot moment to a cool calm.”
Take Care of Yourself
When we put so much time and effort into taking care of others or simply trying to make ends meet, it can feel impossible to take care of ourselves and our needs, too. Setting aside just a few minutes of the day to dedicate to yourself can make a huge difference in your mental state. If you’re feeling burned out, it will only make it harder to provide quality care to your loved one or maintain a household.
Try incorporating more of the following to take care of yourself:
- Ensuring you get eight hours of sleep whenever possible
- Exercising regularly or taking small, frequent physical activity breaks throughout the day
- Consuming a balanced diet with enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Sitting in intentional silence for a few minutes or utilizing a meditation app
- Listening to your favorite music while doing chores or when you feel overwhelmed
- Limiting your social media intake by deleting addictive apps, setting a social media timer, or logging out after each visit
Most caregivers go through their entire days without rest or doing things they enjoy, and this can lead to burnout faster than anything else.
Self-care can look a bit different for everyone, but doing enough of it pays off when it comes to your physical and mental health, as well as your caregiving ability.
Many are feeling stuck and overwhelmed to the point where they feel like they are drowning in their responsibilities as a caregiver, especially with pandemic fatigue thrown in the mix. If you feel this way, see if you can find a local or virtual support group or if you have access to counseling through your workplace or insurance. Check out online directories like Aunt Bertha that can help you find low-cost mental healthcare, support groups, or other local resources in your area. You don’t have to handle the stressors of caregiving and pandemic fatigue on your own, and you deserve to be supported during these tough times.
If the time has come to look into outside help with caregiving itself, here are a few options:
- Respite care – short-term relief for caregivers in the form of in-home visits or trips to day care centers or healthcare facilities
- Assisted living – live-in facilities that provide help with some activities of daily living and nursing care
- Long-term care – live-in facilities that provide more advanced services and care for those who need more help than assisted living can give.
How We Can Help
Garnet Hill Rehabilitation and Skilled Care offers a wide range of care options that can help alleviate some of the stress, anxiety, and fatigue that come with caregiving on one’s own. We understand that taking care of aging loved ones can progress from slightly challenging to completely overwhelming in a matter of days, but we are here to support your family every step of the way. Garnet Hill has rehabilitation, respite and skilled nursing options. we will work with you to determine what is right for you and your loved ones.
If you would like to learn more about who we are and how we can help, please contact us today.