Pandemic Caregiving Tips
In these troubling and challenging times caregiving can become stressful. One Caregiver’s Journey was written over a long period of time (9 ½ years) and has a lot of practical recommendations for caregivers. In 2020 caregivers are faced with a multiplicity of issues regardless of whether their elder loved ones live with them, independently or in a senior living facility. Honestly, life during the pandemic is also stressful for our loved ones. Here are some tips to make caregiving easier in these difficult times for all of you.
Stay Connected. It is important for caregivers to stay connected to friends and relatives. If your loved one lives independently call them once a day. Many senior care facilities will assist relatives to take your call if they are able. Make it a routine to try to call about the same time each day. Seniors like routines and generally plan their days around a set standard, like watching a television program at a certain time. These calls are generally quick, consist mainly of small talk and give caregivers a sense of relief. Frankly, these daily calls are more for the caregiver’s benefit to keep in touch and know their loved one is safe. There are other ways to stay connected as a family with technology of texting or Zoom. Not all seniors are competent in today’s technology or have computers, but most families do ensure their loved ones have a smart phone. Physical limitations such as hearing loss make group texting the more appealing alternative. Kids can participate in a group chat as well.
Get a GPS. There are different available technologies that allow family members to track their loved ones. I know the idea of a GPS may strike a negative chord in the hearts of many people since such tracking is more often associated with animals and fugitives. We are just naturally wired to automatically hit the panic button and think the worst has occurred if our loved ones do not respond to a telephone call. First inclination is to think they are on the floor and need help. We are not wired to think maybe they are in the bathroom or just didn’t hear the phone ring. Peace of mind is available through GPS technology, either through a device like a watch or necklace. There is generally a monthly cost but what is peace of mind worth if your loved one lives far away or if they might fall or have a health issue.
Alexa to the rescue. Set up a phone activated hub for keeping connected. This is an excellent option for elders with failing eyesight or dexterity where dialing a smartphone can be a challenge. Until recently, this option was available only in senior care facilities. Many entities will now create an online account to set up a compact Alexa device that is programmed with family member names and numbers and can also activate a video call. Your loved one can say “Alexa, call my …..” (daughter, son, sister, brother, etc.) The device allows families to stay connected when physical disabilities might otherwise prevent that connection.
Pet robots. Get serious, you say. Well, my aunt had a battery powered stuffed cat. She would turn it on, and the purring sounds and motions were downright real. It offered her a strange type of companionship and calming rhythm. They are inexpensive and one way to help a loved one feel safe, less anxious and calm in what may be a solitary existence.
These are just some low and high-tech ways to feel closer and enhance caregiving when your loved one is living out of your reach.