The Covid-19 and the ongoing new normal have presented numerous challenges encountered by caregivers.
Despite the continuous rollout of the Covid-10 vaccines worldwide, there is still a long way to go before 90% of the world’s population gets vaccinated. Adding to this dilemma are the recent findings that it might be impossible to achieve herd immunity elsewhere. These are just two of several challenges encountered by caregivers and medical frontliners today. For both veteran and millennial caregivers, the ever-changing roles and demands have become part of their jobs, and sometimes they also take a toll on their physical and mental health. Just like other industries operating in the time of the pandemic, caregiving boundaries have been moved. The last two years have seen drastic changes in terms of communication, protocols, and even attitudes towards caregiving.
Caregivers are the toughest and underappreciated workers, often dealing with challenges like isolation, fatigue, and even toxic environments.
Being a caregiver during the global pandemic has brought new faces to the playing field. Gone are the days when most caregivers are adults and old people caring for the eldery. Today we have millennial caregivers as well.
Caring for sick and elderly members of the family is not an easy task. It demands a lot from the caregiver- time, energy, and several sacrifices. Before, there was a time when family caregivers were usually adult members of the family. The age bracket for family caregivers and professional ones ranges from the early twenties to mature individuals who are way into their senior years. All of them deal with challenges that are part of the daily life of a caregiver.
We all know that caregivers spend most of their time with patients or elderly loved ones. Therefore, they are often isolated and can rarely enjoy rest days, unlike typical workers out on weekends and holidays. Isolation is among the one of the most prevalent challenges and often takes a serious mental toll on them, they become accustomed to being alone. This can also cause changes in behaviors and even depression. Fatigue is also common as caregivers primarily work around the clock, especially those who are caregiving at home. The physical demands vary from patient to patient. They include assisting patients in bathing, changing clothes, walking, and other daily activities. Emotional stress also contributes to fatigue. Some caregivers have to deal with complex patients. All the above-mentioned challenges, coupled with other external and internal stresses, certainly do not make a caregiver’s job a walk in the park.
The old challenges encountered by our caregivers are amplified because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When Covid-19 became a pandemic and placed the world at a standstill, caregivers responded to the demands of the times, especially that seniors are the most vulnerable to the virus. However, the times brought new challenges and amplified the old ones, especially with the cure not yet in sight. Standard health protocols include social distancing. Caregivers had to be away from families for more extended periods of time. There’s also the challenge of carefully providing health care to patients without catching and transmitting the virus. Personal routines also changed, and old issues like isolation, fatigue, and other mental health issues became evident. Yet, as Covid ravaged countries worldwide, caregivers remain steadfast in their commitment to patients, adapting fast to new set-ups and routines. When the vaccines were first rolled out, caregivers never hesitated to acquire another layer of protection for them and for the people they cared about. However, even with caregivers fully vaccinated, the challenge of avoiding transmissions remains the same. Vaccines are not cures, and a fully vaccinated caregiver can still contract the virus without suffering severe symptoms and transmit it to others, especially unvaccinated seniors and patients. Social distancing and other health protocols are still required, and part of the numerous challenges caregivers encounter in this new normal.
Caregiving in the New Normal must focus on adapting to new protocols and standards and ensuring the mental health and physical toughness of our dear caregivers. Caregivers and medical institutions recognize the vital role that caregivers play in this time of the great pandemic. Many groups and institutions are now focusing on how to strengthen our caregivers’ mental and physical health. Hopefully, these new set-ups, routines, and other efforts will help diminish caregivers’ challenges today.