A recent survey by the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving revealed that 83% of caregivers are experiencing an increased level of stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caregiving right now is more stressful because caregivers must worry constantly about COVID-19 infection. As if your loved one’s condition wasn’t bad enough, knowing that COVID-19 is so easily spread and can be fatal forces caregivers to take extreme precautions to protect their loved ones.
Caregiving right now is more worrisome because the measures to protect us from COVID-19 are simultaneously contributing to loneliness and social isolation. Caregivers already reported feelings of loneliness before the pandemic—but now we’re seeing how societal shutdowns can have ripple effects. Caregivers and care receivers are more isolated than ever before.
Caregiving right now is more challenging because caregivers have to do more caregiving. COVID-19 adds new care-related tasks for caregivers. As an example, you never had to worry about donning personal protective equipment (PPE), but now you have to find it, get it, and ensure that both you and your loved one properly use it—whenever you need it. COVID-19 means less respite care for many caregivers because they’re concerned that outsiders will increase their loved one’s risk of exposure to the virus.
Caregiving right now is more disquieting because of the countless other effects of COVID-19. The global pandemic has ushered in a year of uncertainty, instability, and change. The normalcy we used to know is gone, and nobody really knows when (or if) things will return to the way they were before. The virus has produced dramatic changes at all levels of society—from the personal lives of individuals to relationships among the nations. The unpredictable effects of COVID-19 across the world have elevated our sense of generalized anxiety. If you’re already worried about other things, the uncontrollable ups and downs of caregiving can be even harder to bear.
Here’s to all the caregivers who keep going amid the chaos of COVID-19. Your labor and continued perseverance are reflections of your strength of character and commitment to your loved one. Like you, I want to believe that things will get better. Until they do, I hope you find some degree of comfort in knowing that your efforts are still making a difference for your loved one.
Caring for a parent, spouse, or relative who cannot care for themselves due to age, infirmity, or illness is one of the noblest human activities. It’s also one of the most stressful, posing challenges that can be painful, confusing, frustrating, and deeply rewarding—sometimes all at once. My debut book, When Caregiving Calls, offers practical advice that can help family caregivers do a better job of coping with the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual challenges they face.