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Caregiving in a Crisis: Caring for parents during the pandemic

 

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Q: My elderly mother is a private pay resident at an upscale assisted living facility. While I understand the reasons for all the restrictions around visiting, this is very sad for me. My mother has become withdrawn and our relationship has suffered. I don’t think she understands the impact the pandemic is having on facilities because of her cognitive limitations. I have considered bringing her home to live with me so we can be together as she will soon be celebrating her 95th birthday. How do I know if this plan will work out or not?

A: You are not alone in feeling anxious and sad about not being able to see your mother. Many families are asking the same questions and dealing with the challenges brought by the pandemic. November is National Family Caregivers Month, and the theme is Caregiving in a Crisis, which we can all agree is happening to caregivers everywhere.

Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, yet it can also create feelings of anxiety and depression. Those feelings are normal. The goal is to create a care plan for her that supports your needs. Pursue all community resources which may be available. You can hire aides through one of the numerous private homecare agencies. Speak with your mother’s physician to find out if she would be eligible for services provided under her Medicare benefit.

Don’t underestimate the importance of self-care when becoming a caregiver. Assuming this new role could be exhausting unless you can take care of your own needs and health. Consider respite services that would allow you to find time for yourself. Family members or friends may be willing to assist with some tasks so don’t hesitate to ask for their help. Even having someone to run errands, do grocery shopping, or provide socialization with your mother can give you a short break.

You will also need to consider if your home can accommodate your mother. It is a lot to consider before making a final decision. I recommend contacting our Family Caregiver Support Program to answer your questions about eligibility, resources, counseling, and an array of other services. Our Family Caregiver Support team is here to help.

Are you struggling to care for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information. You can also call us at 1-800-892-0890 or email ageinfo@esmv.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.