Here are 10 tips to help caregivers carry on caring.
Pandemic or endemic, lockdown or restricted measures, caregivers do not really care. When you have had to confront scarier C-words from cancer and chronic illnesses to cognitive disability, COVID-19 is just another item on the list. For this agile and tenacious group, the caregiving journey can be long and arduous or sudden and swift. Whichever route their journey takes, we can learn from their positive attitude — roll with the punches and say, “come what may”.
Yet even the most resilient can do with some reminders and respite. With this in mind, Tsao Foundation counsellors and social workers would like to offer formal and informal caregivers to seniors some facts, tips and resources to tackle their next road bump in the caregiving journey:
1. You’re not alone: We’ve witnessed about 33% increase in seniors with poorer mental health in the last year. Assure seniors in your charge it is normal to be anxious during this period.
2. Don’t let seniors feel lonely in a crowded room: Some seniors living with their families have told us they are often forgotten in the hecticness of the new work-from-home and home-based learning arrangements. Else, they are reprimanded for being “problematic” when they wanted to go out.
3. Some care and companionship can go a long way: When seniors exhibit anxiety, “I can’t sleep; I don’t have appetite”, do not brush them off but offer to accompany them to the family doctor or community clinic.
4. Remind them that they are resilient: Remind or assure seniors they have survived tougher times and have it in them till today.
5. Use a common language of love: When we connect through the seniors’ preferred language – be it Mandarin, Malay, Tamil or dialect – they feel a sense of security and will confide in you more.
6. Go digital: Digital content and communications flourished during this pandemic, and we urge more seniors as well as caregivers to embrace this new way of staying connected to community resources.
7. Sync mind, body and soul: When the external environment is stressful, our bodies may have acclimatised but our emotions have not yet caught up. Being aware of this and giving it time will help.
8. Give phone counselling a try: A warm voice can do wonders and be just as effective as face-to-face counselling during these trying times.
9. Lean in on your village: Keep exchanging notes with your community partners to work through tough cases and share interventions.
10. Call counselling and coaching hotlines: These helplines are just a call away. Call them for critical cases or if you need help.