‘Heightened challenges’: How the pandemic impacts caregivers

How about from a caregiver’s point of view?

Millions of people around the world care for loved ones who are either aging in place, have a disability or live with a chronic condition that requires them to have additional support from friends and / or family. This role can sometimes take a toll on mental health, but what is the impact on caregivers during a pandemic?

According to the International Alliance of Carer Organizations (IACO), there are at least 43.5 million people in the United States who act as a caregiver for a family member. Often dubbed by health care professionals as the ‘backbone of long-term care provided in people’s homes’, Caregivers play a pivotal role in the nurturing and support giving process that is synonymous with aging loved ones. However, offering ongoing care to elderly individuals as they need it can take its toll on caregivers’ mental stability and wellbeing, as they may worry about their loved ones’ health or face shifting relationship dynamics and drastic lifestyle changes.

Great News!  There are products that can help ease some of this worry. Whether it’s caregiver call systems designed to connect caregivers with their loved ones to signal that their assistance is needed, door exit alarms that prevent seniors from wandering, or bed exit alarms, designed to provide an early warning to caregivers when a resident attempts to exit the bed. All of these products are designed with prevention in mind, aiming to safeguard elders from any harm, whilst providing caregivers with the additional support they so desperately require – particularly during these unprecedented times.

Research has shown that informal caregivers are at a high risk of experiencing chronic stress, as well as anxiety and depression. But if caregivers face a heightened risk of mental health issues anyway, what extra challenges do they face during the pandemic — a time of turmoil and increased insecurity?

Pandemic and the effects on Caregivers

Experts continue to articulate the major challenges caregivers face on a daily basis, many of whom are sleep deprived and fatigued as a result of caring for the wellbeing of those vulnerable people. Many caregivers experience feelings of failure and guilt, unable to ease the pain or anxiety of their loved ones, in turn, rendering low self-esteem and even depressive tendencies. And unfortunately these negative emotions are likely to be exacerbated in the wake of Covid-19…

A paper in the ‘Journal of Pain and Symptom Management’ delineates how accumulative stress levels of family caregivers and their overall mental health will rise and worsen as the pandemic continues to spread across the US (and the world), with the virus creating heightened restrictions and changes to schedules and activities that caregivers typically conform to.

The journal outlines a number of factors that would contribute to poorer mental health. These include;

  • An increased sense of isolation and reduced access to official sources of support due to physical distancing measures
  • Increased financial strain
  • Delays or cancellations in formal primary care services for themselves and their loved Ones

To put this into context, the likes of day care centers where caregivers go and meet with other caregivers have been closed. Additionally, group meetings where aging individuals or patients go to provide some much needed respite time for caregivers have all been stopped due to the fear of infection, thus adding pressure on the caregivers. All of this contributes to their poor mental health issues – which is a growing concern 10 months deep into a pandemic.

Thinly stretched, overworked and additional pressure on top of the typical worries synonymous with a public health crisis, caregivers may be feeling extremely burnt out and at a loss, yearning for that much needed support to relieve some strain they are facing in their everyday lives.

There are products that can be used to allow the caregivers to take a break and still know they will be alerted if the patient needs assistance. For example, our wireless alarm with a call button or our caregiver pagers can connect a caregiver with their loved one within a matter of seconds.

These products can be easy to access for both patient and caregiver, whether they function as a lanyard and worn like a pendant, or mounted to any flat surface with the included sticky adhesive tape. They can also be utilised as a belt for those caregivers, or set on a countertop up to 150 feet away. This ensures that those vulnerable individuals and their caregivers are always connected, despite being physically apart at various intervals throughout the day.

How Val-U-Care can help…

With the World focused on nursing and caregivers for so many sick people, our heroes are those taking care of the vulnerable (high risk fall patients and elopement patients)… As more people get sick, the careers are short handed and stretched thin. They are exhausted and can use all the help anyone can give them.

Additional assistance is therefore a fruitful measure to help provide assistance to those caregivers who are overburdened in their personal and professional life. By having a remote early alert that a high-risk person is attempting to be mobile or walk out a door, it allows for caregiver freedom to move about a facility or home and attend to other tasks, like food prep and laundry/cleaning and even take a coffee break.

Alternatively, products such as exit alarms ensure the caregiver is notified when residents try to exit the bed or wander. Notifications can be sent quietly by pager. More audible alarms can also be sent by bed or chair exit alarm.

I have literally heard testimonials “it gives them peace of mind” knowing they will be alerted remotely, or how the bed and motion sensor alarms have proven invaluable to caregivers looking after their significant others, helps improve their safety by avoiding falls as much as possible as well as providing that high level of comfort and security by alerting them to their movements before it gets serious. They are lifesavers for their sanity.

Conclusion

With so much going on in the world, many individuals on a global scale are suffering from severe deterioration of their mental wellbeing. With feelings of fatigue and anxiety so rife amongst caregivers prior to a pandemic, Covid-19 is certainly said to take a toll on those individuals who work tirelessly to look after those vulnerable citizens.

Consequently, prevention methods like bed exit alarms or pagers to alert caregivers that help prevent falls from happening, (avoiding those unnecessary and costly trips to the hospital) are useful ways of alleviating pressure and strain on caregivers. They provide peace of mind and hope that there are measures in place to safeguard loved ones from being in danger, in turn, providing caregivers with that much needed respite time that they have been deprived of during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you are a caregiver and could do with some additional support, browse our online store today or call one of our friendly staff to help you find the perfect product for you and your loved ones.

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