By Kendra Lohmer
Aside from the millions of healthcare workers in caregiving positions, there are more than 53 million Americans who help to provide unpaid care to family, friends or neighbors. Therefore, there must be an ongoing discussion about how we can support our caregivers. Promoting social and mental health for caregivers is just as important as the health of their patient.
As this statistic grows and the number of caregivers continues to increase, so do the resources. Caregivers should continue to reach out, access the multitude of resources locally or online and ask for help. And while a caregiver’s list of things “to do” is often insurmountable, here are a few that are often overlooked:
- Share with others that you have taken on the role of a caregiver. Concealing this is particularly common in men and can lead to access stress when trying to hide such an important part of your life – especially if you’re new to it. People will offer to help you and it’s okay to accept that help.
- Give yourself some grace. Everyone has bad days. No one can be a “Super Caregiver” day in and day out. It’s normal to have days when you wish you were free of all the obligations and decisions. But there will also be wonderful days, when you are the “Super Caregiver”, and be sure to enjoy those and take them in.
- Stay connected with others, even if your loved one is homebound. Consider letting someone come take your place, even if it’s only for a couple hours. Maybe it’s someone you know, but if not, look around in your local community. Many communities have organizations for just that.
- Make your own health a priority. You are a better caregiver when you’re healthy – and that means both physical and mental health. Take the time to take care of yourself – it’s part of being a good caregiver.
As we continue through the difficulty of the COVID-19 pandemic, be especially vigilant of taking care of yourself as a caregiver, or of those around you who are caregivers. In the current world of increased isolation, remember the caregiving burden is not yours to bear alone.
For more information and resources, visit: