Hope Hospice provides online guidance for caregivers during pandemic

Hope Hospice provides online guidance for caregivers during pandemic

Hope Hospice provides online guidance for caregivers during pandemic
Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash.com

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY—Being a family caregiver to an aging loved one comes with many challenges.

Watching their decline may leave you feeling depressed and overwhelmed. Neglecting your own needs can lead to exhaustion. And, even if friends and other family occasionally help or check in, you still might feel alone.

All these feelings are common, even in the best of times. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an even more challenging situation for individuals who are trying to balance their own needs with the responsibilities of caring for an aging loved one.

To offer support to the community, Hope Hospice converted its Family Caregiver Education Series into an online format to make this popular program more easily accessible during this time. The Zoom webinars present a variety of topics related to caring for seniors or those with a chronic disabling condition.

We developed a special edition, “Caregiving in the COVID Era,” to addresses the challenges that family caregivers are now facing. You can view a recording of this presentation, as well as a similar class that focuses specifically on dementia care during the pandemic, at HopeHospice.com/family-past.

A few key takeaways

For many older adults, this new effort to reduce in-person engagements has resulted in isolation. But with crisis comes opportunity. Take this time as a chance to learn how to use technology to help with everyday tasks. Grocery stores offer home delivery. Restaurants can send your favorite meals right to your doorstep with just a few clicks on the computer. Online courses in a variety of subjects are easier to access than ever. Book clubs, churches and other social gatherings meet online, too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend or neighbor to help you get set up. Or, if you feel too intimidated to learn these new programs, ask a grandchild to order a meal or groceries for you and get the goods sent to your home. You can do it on a smartphone from any location.

Weigh the risks of home care vs. facility care. During times when you feel overwhelmed trying to care for your loved one by yourself, you may start thinking about transitioning him or her to a nursing home or assisted living facility. That’s a normal consideration. But before you make any changes, be sure you know the facility’s policies for keeping residents and staff safe during this public health crisis. Each facility has unique rules, but most either forbid or strictly limit visits from outside people – even family. If spending quality time with your loved one is your main priority, you might instead work on getting in-home help from a small network of people who agree to take extra measures to prevent exposure to the virus.

Self-care more important than ever

Self-care has become more important now than ever. The current health crisis amplifies any stress, depression or other troubling emotions that a family caregiver would experience under normal circumstances. It’s imperative to carve out time for yourself to engage in activities  just for you. You might try exercise, reading, an online activity or even just a nap. These moments of self-care may involve some planning, so create a schedule and seek commitments from trusted friends, family or a paid caregiving service.

Find the yearlong Zoom schedule and register for any class at HopeHospice.com/family. The series is offered to the community at no cost, but donations of any amount help offset the costs of producing the program.

Emerson is the community health educator for Hope Hospice, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit since 1980. For more information, call 925-829-8770.