In India, 8 out of every 10 caregivers are women, which means they offer regular assistance to children, seniors, or persons with chronic diseases or disabilities. Caregivers face an increased risk of deteriorating physical and emotional wellbeing, including depression and anxiety. Caregiving could become ever more stressful as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are few pointers to help you handle your own and others' care:
If youâ€™re stressed, anxious, or depressed
As a caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself and get the assistance you need. Taking care entails maintaining healthier habits, handling stress, and finding additional assistance, especially during COVID-19.
Maintain Healthy Behaviours
â—Â Â Â Take steps to protect yourself and others against COVID-19.
â—Â Â Â Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
â—Â Â Â Eat foods that are safe and healthy.
â—Â Â Â Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
â—Â Â Â Exercise regularly.
â—Â Â Â Get plenty of sleep.
â—Â Â Â Avoid excessive alcohol and substance use.
â—Â Â Â Manage Stress
â—Â Â Â Woman sitting on sofa holding baby, looking at laptop
â—Â Â Â Take breaks from watching, listening or reading news stories or social media postings about COVID-19.
â—Â Â Â Make time to unwind. Take a walk or do an activity you enjoy.
â—Â Â Â Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
â—Â Â Â Find other ways to cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
â—Â Â Â Seek Extra Support
You are not by yourself. Support networks provide a safe haven for those in similar positions to seek solace. Request a referral from a specialist or the state or local health authority for a caregiver support network that holds virtual meetings. You should also look for caregiver support services online by looking for â€œcaregiver support groupâ€ and the name of your party.
Recognize that you can need additional assistance. Speak to a doctor or psychiatrist, social worker, or licenced counsellor if depression or suicidal feelings interfere with your everyday life for many days in a row.
Request a referral from your doctor or a nearby health centre to a psychiatrist who can provide counselling for free or on a sliding rate scale. Counselling programmes can be covered under certain health care plans.
Recognize and react whether you are a victim of violence or are on the verge of being violent. Abusive behaviour by or against caregivers is more likely during difficult times such as COVID-19. If required, seek assistance with preventive or protection services in your state for domestic violence, child abuse, or elder abuse.
When caring for children
With some workplaces, classrooms, and childcare centres closed due to COVID-19, many caregivers are juggling jobs, teaching, and caring for their baby. When you are caring for infants, it can be difficult to balance several roles. Get advice from family and friends when you are stressed or in need of assistance with childcare or other domestic activities to relieve the burden. Try requesting flexible scheduling hours from the boss if at all necessary. To better educate your choices and decisions on returning to work, consult your state's website for re-opening plans and link to advice for particular sectors and jobs.
Children can struggle to cope with hearing and seeing too much about COVID-19. Caregivers should provide COVID-19 awareness to children while still limiting their exposure to news and social media. Social distancing can be practised by children as well as adults. This entails restricting their interaction with other children and adults who live in areas other than their own. They may feel depressed or frustrated as a result of social distancing from peers and less time for play. Find new opportunities to keep children occupied with their usual interests and habits as much as possible.
Here are a few tips for caring for children during the COVID-19 pandemic:
If you need childcare when operating from home, aim to avoid selecting someone who is at a greater risk of serious illness, such as an elderly parent or someone with an underlying medical disorder. Be sure all children with special needs have enough services and that emergency plans are in place.
Assist your child in becoming socially linked. Kids can keep in touch with their friends and family by calling, video chatting, or sending letters and cards.
When school is not in session, assist children in continuing their education. Many schools already deliver online classes (virtual learning). Inform the teachers if your child is having difficulty doing assigned work. If you are unsure of whether your child is able to learn or how your child learns best, seek the advice of a teacher. It is important to develop a routine and versatile schedule for learning at home.
Check to see that the school has food and though classes are not in session. Many schools provide free food to children in their families. IF AT ALL Practicable, encourage your child to play outside. Being physically and mentally healthy is beneficial to children's health. Indoor exercise breaks (such as stretches or dance breaks) will help your child remain safe and engaged during the day.
When caring for older adults
The majority of caregivers for older people are women over the age of 50. Female caregivers experience more physical and emotional pain, as well as ill health, than male caregivers. Managing your own wellbeing when caring for an elderly relative can be challenging.
Since older adults are at a greater risk of serious disease from COVID-19, it is critical to devise a strategy to protect them. A care package outlines what you can do if you are unable to care for an elderly relative. A care package provides a list of contacts with relatives, friends, neighbours, and local government providers that will offer caregiving assistance whether you are sick or unavailable. A replacement caregiver, for example, should preferably not be someone who is at high risk of serious disease from COVID-19.
You will be reluctant to see the elderly person you usually care about while they are admitted to a hospital or nursing home due to COVID-19. Inquire with the facilities employees whether they will assist you in contacting them by phone, video chat, email, or mailing cards or letters.
Here are few more pointers to consider when caring for elderly people:
Take special precautions to keep elderly people and people with medical problems safe.
Except for necessary errands such as going to the grocery store, hospital, or getting medical attention, keep trips outside the home to a minimum. To reduce visits to the grocery store, keep canned, cooked, or frozen meals, cleaning items, and disinfecting materials at home.
Keep additional prescriptions and other provisions on hand for elderly people in your care, such as oxygen, incontinence products (pads or waterproof underwear), thermometers, wound care (antiseptics, bandages, and gauze), and other medical supplies.
Men need to start helping at home.
This pandemic has provided a golden chance for men-as-allies to strategically harness their newly acquired domestic relationship skills. Men should begin by thinking about how they can consciously lean in to becoming a stronger ally to their wife at home. Here are some suggestions to help you get started with better male partnership at home right away:
Do your fair share of chores and childcare. There is no better time than now to check up with your wife and request a domestic results audit and see how you're going. Even if she advises you that you need to do something, don't be defensive; instead, find out ways to improve.
Take on the emotional labour of tracking, planning, and organizing family needs, activities, and special occasions. Women are more likely to keep mental lists for their families, which is another kind of unpaid labour â€” cognitive labour. Grocery lists, holidays, birthdays, children's school necessities, children's clothes, medications, pet needs â€” the list seems to go on forever. Men must do their equal share of the work.
Be purposeful in prioritizing work and family responsibilities. To assist you in prioritising, use â€œruthless compartmentalizationâ€ in establishing and adhering to distinctions between work and home. Set targets at home in the same way as you do at work. Establish main success measures (KPIs) for your family obligations in the same manner as you do for work. This will assist you in self-monitoring and ensuring you are being the father and wife you hope to be.
Be authentic and transparent about your current work-family situation. This means monitoring your work life and availability transparently so that you can prioritise family commitments. Most people now recognise that attempting to project an impression of harmony and serenity when operating from home with children, pets, and others in a public environment is pointless. Accept it and make it usual for yourself, your colleagues, and your co-workers. Authenticity allows you to be more successful in all of your positions.
A partnership is the only way that this works. Make that effort.
Decency Rajput Chowdhury
Consultant Clinical Psychologist, VIMHANS, New Delhi with a
Precision Nutrition Coaching Certification