It’s October 2020, and many of us know adult daycares across the country that are serving a lower capacity of seniors with dementia. Many have shut their doors altogether, leaving countless people to continue to care for their loved ones with dementia in their homes 24/7. These times are unprecedented, and it’s easy for people to fall through the cracks. Caring for a loved one with dementia is already tricky enough without a global pandemic creating more obstacles. It is important to remember that you are never alone while you may feel deeply isolated during this time. Social isolation continues to be a crisis affecting thousands of people worldwide, and countless others want to help you.
In the past, people primarily used technology tools like Zoom for business, but thankfully that has changed. The pandemic has spurred a newfound interest in improving things like Teletherapy services, resulting in streamlined systems and easy access to a helping hand or listening ear. You are not alone. There are entire networks now dedicated to connecting people with shared experiences and places to find relief.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we spoke with Dr. Diane Darby Beach, a gerontologist who made an insightful comment, “The biggest effect on lowering the level of stress for a caregiver is to give them respite.” Without respite, caregiving’s everyday stress amplifies, and it can have detrimental effects on a person’s emotional well-being. It isn’t easy to care for somebody to the best of your ability when you are not well. It can cause long-term issues that persist far beyond the passing of your loved one.
I urge the family members and children of the caregivers to continue to pitch in from a distance. A break is often the most important thing that somebody needs, and Zoom provides a seamless way to communicate with your loved ones from a safe distance. People are getting creative with these platforms: hosting painting parties, storytelling hours, happy hours, and other digital hangout sessions with one another. Let’s make sure we keep it going! Some families are finding that they’re spending even more time with each other than they would have had none of this ever happened. It levels the playing field for everybody and makes it as easy as a single click to see a loving face. Even if it is for a brief time, a call with the grandchildren can provide a caregiver with an opportunity to relax, eat, and rest.
We often forget about the importance of our self-care in our daily life. But when we sacrifice our health, we always pay the price. If you haven’t tried Teletherapy or virtual respite, now is a great time to start. Taking the initiative and talking to people you know that are caregivers about these possibilities could open the door to a whole other conversation about what the caregiver feels they need to feel their best.