To most Americans, the world seems to be on pause as community events, social gatherings, and even many employment positions have come to a screeching halt. However, to those who are full-time caregivers, a pause button does not exist. Life as they know it is continuing on with a significant lack of community and social support. Adult day programs, senior centers and other previously used supportive outlets are closed and respite care is not in service. As a caregiver, however, your work continues.
Caregivers for someone with dementia or any type of physical or cognitive impairment have been at risk for isolation and depression well before the onset of COVID-19. Whether this is a new diagnosis or it has been in play for many years, it can be an emotionally draining experience. Coping with the changes in your loved one as well as simply dealing with the daily duties of being a caregiver can take a serious toll on one’s mental health.
Self-care is an extremely important component of being a caregiver; often times, it is the most neglected component. On top of that, with resources currently on hold, ways to practice self-care are very limited. Caregiver burnout leads to psychological and physical damage, added stress, and increased frustration and negativity. Burnout can be, and should be, prevented. To ensure your loved one is getting the best care possible, it is crucial that your needs, as caregiver, are also addressed.
There have many numerous studies over the years testing the effects of counseling and levels of depression and burnout in caregivers. All of these studies have the same conclusion: depression rates are notably lower when caregivers participate in mental health counseling. However, depression doesn’t have to be the only reason to seek help. Telehealth therapy – counseling done by telephone or an online video platform during this time of social distancing – can act as an outlet to vent or discuss your loved one’s activities that day, which you might have previously been able to do with the adult daycare employees or a visiting family member. Or maybe you need to set aside this time to discuss your own personal thoughts and struggles unrelated to your loved one. Whatever the reason, telehealth services can simply remind you that you are not alone, even during a time of social isolation.
Engage in self-care. Get outside, call an old friend, take a bath, or try an activity you enjoy in between caring for your loved one. When at all possible, see the positivity and even humor during this strange time and appreciate every day you are spending together. And if you could use some assistance doing so, telehealth counseling services are here to help. You are welcome to reach a therapist who specializes in serving seniors, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers at our office number, (314) 275-8599. We accept traditional Medicare and private pay, and new clients are always welcome.