Caring For The Caregiver
Covid has put additional stress on everyone. People are dealing with the threat of a deadly virus, loss, isolation, rising food costs and food shortages as well as economic and employment insecurity. Our most vulnerable populations feel the effects of these changes and stressors and are particularly hurt by the isolation being imposed to keep them safe.
The people who care for those with long-term illnesses or physical limitations are under a lot of stress in normal times and Covid has exaperated these conditions. Apart from the concern for loved ones who are “locked down” in facilities to minimize or prevent the spread of infection, those who remain in the community are precluded from engaging in customary activities that provide socialization and structure. Visits from friends and family members and trips to the senior center, the library or the salon have not been part of daily life during these last several months and care givers must devote more time and energy to making life interesting and enjoyable. While caring for our loved ones is a full time job and requires tremendous patience and compassion, it is just as important to ensure that the caregivers, whether they are providing full-time care or overseeing and supplementing care, are supported. Caregiver exhaustion or “burnout” creates its own set of problems and health concerns for a family. There are resources available to help. Sometimes friends or family members can take on various responsibilities such as meal preparation or shopping. Perhaps they can schedule a weekly visit just to give the caregiver some time off. Service providers can be employed to reduce the chores a caregiver must accomplish in a given week such as housekeeping, laundry or errands. Often, the caregiver is juggling work, their own family and other responsibilities. Here are the organizations and resources dedicated to providing support to caregivers: https://caregiveraction.org/ www.caring.com www.helpguide.org.
Taking care of the mental and emotional strain of caregiving is always vital. New York State has set up an emotional support help line to help address anxiety during the Coronavirus emergency. It can be reached at 1-844-863-9314. There may be additional resources available through insurance, New York State or your communities. We encourage everyone to make sure they are getting the help and support they need.
In addition to connecting with friends, family members or organizations to reduce the caregiver’s workload and address the physical, mental and emotional challenges of being a caregiver, especially during a pandemic, enormous relief is available from professional aides who can assist in the day-to-day care of your loved one. With proper planning, provided your loved one meets the physical and cognitive criteria, home health aides can be paid for through the Medicaid system. Berwitz & DiTata LLP will explain how this works and help you determine whether applying for benefits is the right choice for you. Professionals can also be hired privately and, sometimes, paid for with insurance. Having a trained home care attendant or aide in the home allows the caregiver to focus their attention on companionship, meal sharing and overseeing care. Regardless of whether the assistance in caregiving is paid for privately, through insurance or the Medicaid system, the result may restore balance and the enjoyment of the familial relationship and eliminate the sometimes dispassionate caregiver/“patient” connection. If you think it might be time to reassess your need for help and support, please contact Berwitz & DiTata LLP and discover that we can help.