National Caregivers Month
This month marks the 26th annual recognition of family caregivers with National Caregivers Month. This year, Caregiver Action Network selected the theme “Caregivers in Crisis.” COVID-19 has placed even more obstacles in front of those who take care of their loved ones than usual, so they could do with some extra appreciation this November.
Added Caregiver Obstacles
Added costs during an economic crisis
Even with Medicare, a COVID-19 related hospital stay is expected to cost $10,000 out of pocket. The cost for someone without insurance is $73,000 on average. In the face of unemployment and economic struggles, this incredible cost is likely too much to bear.
Extra pressure to keep loved ones out of nursing homes
According to The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, a shocking 42% of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The conflict between being unable to care for a loved one during this time and feeling unsafe putting them in a nursing home is very real.
The learning curve associated with video appointments
The transition to telehealth invites a whole new aspect to stress about when getting ready for a doctor’s appointment. Do you have a device that can connect to the internet and has video and audio capabilities?* Is your internet connection stable? How will the effectiveness of communication change? Will someone who is a caregiver be able to join the appointment from a separate location? Read about the importance of having a family member join doctor’s appointments here.
Inability to visit loved ones or changing levels of interaction due to pandemic restrictions
If a caregiver’s loved one is in a care facility, it’s likely that for at least some period of time, alternative visits had to be arranged instead of the usual face-to-face time. Many people had to visit with their family members through a window, possibly while trying to explain why the visit was different than normal. Additionally, a caregiver may face increased travel restrictions.
Not knowing where to draw the line in terms of COVID-19 risk.
When a caregiver doesn’t face outside restrictions for being with their loved one, they likely still face an internal struggle. Any act could result in exposure to COVID-19, so a caregiver faces the ultimate level of consideration because there is no way of knowing with absolute certainty whether or not they are putting their loved one at risk. The balance between providing that needed support and avoiding risk of transmission can be extremely delicate.
How to Support Caregivers
In light of all these ADDITIONAL struggles caregivers face during this time, the Caregiver Action Network has put together a list of 10 tips for family caregivers that can aid in doing the good work.
By Ellen Vaillant
*Note: Because technology is so pertinent to staying connected these days, please reach out to lend a tablet from us if you do not have access to a computer. The Tablets2Go program is available for adults 55+ who are registered for a Madison Senior Center program. Call (608) 266-6581 to schedule an appointment to meet with a staff person about checking out a tablet. Please leave a voicemail with your name and phone number.