As a result of the COVID-19 crisis and Stay-At-Home Order, caregivers are feeling more overwhelmed and sequestered than ever. The important thing to know is that you’re not alone, and there are essential resources available to help.
The new Caregiver Support Services program at Gulfside Hospice is currently helping those who are caring for their hospice patients, with the goal of empathetically interacting with them to improve quality of life for them and those for whom they provide care. We have over 700 caregivers in our program right now — some who are new to Hospice whose loved one has been recently diagnosed, and others who have been caregivers for years with their loved ones entering the final phase of their life.
Some caregivers live with the patient, and some live out of the area and yet are still responsible for their loved one’s care. Either way, caregiver services are important for family members who manage their loved one’s care. That’s why we have put together this quick list of tips to help you stay organized and take time for self-care.
While love and commitment are at the core of caregiving, and it can produce feelings of joy and fulfillment, we understand the stress and chaos that can also be produced by caregiving responsibilities, especially during this time, and we want to lend a helping hand.
Take Care of Yourself
If you are a caregiver, you are the person responsible for running your household and making sure quality care is being provided. It is essential that you take care of yourself first, so you don’t get sick or run out of energy.
– View yourself as your top priority – if you aren’t healthy in mind and body, you won’t be able to properly take care of others.
– Set aside 15-20 minutes, two or three times a day, to unwind and focus on yourself. Do a crossword puzzle, work on a jigsaw puzzle or color a page with pencils or markers.
– Take a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood, and/or exercise along with a You Tube video.
– Schedule your personal breaks into your day planner — just like you do meals and medication.
Build Your Support System
Don’t be afraid to ask people to help. Grow your support system so you can utilize them when you need help with errands, or to help with family communications that can take up much time and be emotionally draining.
– Your support system can be family, friends, neighbors, and hospice volunteers and staff. Ask in advance if they are able to help when the need arises, and keep their contact information in an easy to remember spot, so you have it when you need it.
– Your support system can shop for groceries and other household needs, pick up medications and even fill up your gas tank. All this can be done without coming into your home and exposing them or your household during this crisis.
It’s important to have everything you need in one place when you are a caregiver. This includes assembling a medication list, banking information and passwords, a list of email addresses and passwords to pay utilities, mortgage and auto loans, credit cards and other monthly obligations, maintain an updated list of family names, phone numbers and email addresses, and assemble wills and other legal documents, such as do not resuscitate orders and other medical directives.
By Charlie Lowry, Director of Caregiver Support Services
Gulfside Healthcare Services
Charlie Lowry is the Director of Caregiver Support Services and has been at Gulfside Healthcare Services for three years, and has worked in hospice services since 2012. The caregiver services that Lowry’s team provides are not covered by Medicare and other insurance companies, and are dependent on fundraising events and private donations. To contribute, go to Gulfside.org/make-a-gift, or call (800) 561-4883.
Published April 15, 2020
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