Caregiving During COVID-19: Be Well With These 6 Tips
During periods of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, family members and close friends continue to provide daily care.
Caregivers should develop habits and strategies to maintain their own health and well-being. This helps to both limit viral transmission and to avoid the ever-present risk of caregiver burnout.
Here are some key strategies and tips for caregiving in the era of COVID-19.
Reduce Transmission of Coronavirus
Follow CDC-recommended protocols for personal and patient hygiene as also practiced by VITAS.
Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, especially:
- Before, during, and after food preparation
- After using the toilet, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- Before and after treating someone who is ill
Stay Informed about COVID-19, But Don’t Overdo It
Keep up to date on the state of COVID-19 in your area, but don’t obsess—and don’t mistake social media opinion for fact.
- A constant barrage of pandemic-focused news can be mentally and emotionally overwhelming, so try to limit your intake to a certain time or times each day.
- Your VITAS team will keep you informed on best practices. Don’t be afraid to call or ask questions during their visits.
Take Care of Yourself
Your patient’s well-being relies on your ability to maintain your own. To be at your best, be sure to:
- Eat healthy, balanced meals
- Maintain a regular sleep routine
- Find chances to exercise whenever possible
Watch for Signs of Burnout
Caregiver burnout can happen in any caregiver-patient relationship, but the risk is heightened in times of increased stress.
You may be suffering from caregiver burnout if you experience any of these problems:
- Overwhelming anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty coping with everyday tasks
Consider making more time for yourself when possible, or take a break for up to 5 days with support from VITAS respite care (you can speak to your hospice care team about this).
Over any amount of time, caregiving can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. Learn how to HALT if you’re feeling caregiver burnout.
Find Opportunities to Relax
Caregiving is a major responsibility, but it shouldn’t completely overtake your life. Use spare moments to listen to your favorite music, read, or work on a hobby.
Here are some other options:
- Try mindfulness exercises such as meditation or creative visualization.
- Engage in prayer.
- Spend some time outside by taking a walk around the block (stay at least 6 feet away from others) or working in the garden.
Social distancing doesn’t mean total isolation:
- Reach out to friends and family regularly for casual chats and wellness checks.
- Consider spending time together virtually, whether by watching a movie over a video chat session or playing games together online.
- If you live with loved ones, find ways to help and support each other.
During these uncertain times, caregivers remain a valuable constant for VITAS patients and the teams that care for them. Please stay healthy and safe as you perform your crucial role, and we promise to support you in every way we can.