I know I’m not alone in these emotions.
When I talk to family caregivers, a common thread is the range and depth of the emotions we are feeling during this crisis. As caregivers, we always live with the fear that an underlying medical issue will worsen or a heart attack or stroke will force our loved one into the hospital. But today’s world heightens our fears and increases feelings of helplessness. After all, if they get ill and need to go to the hospital, we can’t visit them. If we get ill, who will take over for us? The fear is real and normal, but we can’t let it paralyze us.
Fear: what can we do about it?
Right now, I feel like everything is out of control. On top of worrying about staying healthy for mom and making sure she has everything she needs, I am scared to death about being able to survive this crisis financially. I know there are going to be difficult decisions going forward, but until this plays out, I can’t make ANY decisions. The only thing I can do right now is take these fears and put actions to each one.
As Denise Brown says: “Every worry has a plan. If we’re making plans, we’re in action. And that makes us feel like something is within our control during a situation that’s very much out of our control.”
- Mom, her caregiver and I are all practicing social distancing and hand washing. Since I am her hands-on caregiver every two weeks for three days, this is key.
- Mom’s doctor appointments are done via Telehealth and her doctor is working with us on ways to take blood that can be done without going into the office.
- I am doing shopping online. If friends and neighbors are headed to the store, I will ask them to try and pick up one or two things I was unable to order. For tips on successful online shopping, read this post: Tips to stay sane, safe and healthy during COVID-19.
- I am reciprocating. I visit the post office every two weeks or so for my business. Before I go, I reach out to neighbors to ask if they need anything mailed or need stamps.
- When I do venture out, I am wearing gloves and a homemade mask.
- When I walk the dog, I am careful to stay 6 feet away from others who are out getting exercise and I am masked.
- I am working hard to create online training offerings, workshops via Zoom and currently offer free half-hour consultations to family caregivers who are struggling during the pandemic. If you would like an opportunity to talk over your fears, please sign up via Calendly.
- I am taking advantage of the free online offerings that help me move my plans forward.
- Bringing in a roommate when it is safe is one piece of my economic plan. I’m letting family and friends know now.
- An hour a day is spent looking for part time work I can do from mom’s house or mine.
- I have named the fear that I will not be able to stay in my home. I am still wrapping my head around it.
Plans to keep myself grounded.
- Mom and I continue to talk every day and we limit the amount of time we talk about this crisis.
- I limit my consumption of news to NJ Governor Murphy’s daily briefing.
- I search YouTube for interviews with Dr. Fauci.
- I limit time spent on social media.
- I schedule Zoom calls with family and friends a couple of times a week. In fact mom and I have caught up with people we have not seen in years.
- I have set a schedule for work and play and try to stick to that routine. I’ll be honest, I could do a better job on the exercise piece!
- I try to take it day-by-day and some days it is moment-to-moment.
- When fear starts turning into a panicked loop in my head, I will stop and think of what can I do right now that moves me forward. Sometimes it is cleaning out a drawer or shelf in a closet. It gives me a sense of control and for me is a positive step forward in adjusting to the idea that I might not be able to stay in my home.
Some things you can do right now
- Write down each one of your fears.
- Then write down one thing you can do today that moves you forward physically or mentally.
- Reach out to mentors, friends or family that you know and trust and who know you well:
- Name your fears and share your action plan.
- Listen to their insights and suggestions.
- Just sit with their input. Don’t discount any ideas right away. You may not do exactly what they suggest, but I guarantee you will have insights you did not have before that can be incorporated. Their ideas can even set you off in a new direction.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org