Jewish Community Outreach Social Worker
Helping Caregivers Cope
Covid-19 has hit dementia caregivers hard. Over the past nine months, the calls we received were from caregivers, already stressed by caregiving, facing additional stressors from the pandemic. Caregivers expressed concerns about themselves or their care recipient getting sick, navigating home care considerations and trying to figure out how to keep their care recipient engaged, as their regular schedules changed drastically due to closures of senior centers and day programs.
Home care has been and continues to be a major issue for caregivers. Many of our callers asked for assistance with getting more home care hours from Medicaid. In response, the social work department developed two unique seminars tackling the practical and emotional needs of caregivers. The first, Navigating Medicaid Home Care, was presented on September 2nd. It helped caregivers understand how to advocate for additional home care hours and went over the process of appealing decisions to cut hours.
The second seminar was Coping with Caregiving and Difficult Emotions. Caregivers often called for help with feelings like anger — a very common emotion felt among Alzheimer’s caregivers. With the pandemic raging and being in close quarters most of the time with the person with dementia, many caregivers expressed the need for assistance coping and managing their anger. This seminar validated their experiences and provided some tips for managing that anger. The importance of self-care was also discussed. At the end of the meeting, there was a question-and-answer session in which caregivers were able to discuss their situations and explore ways to respond to their challenges. Many of the participants expressed relief and gratitude at having this forum. One caregiver in particular said that by attending the workshop she no longer felt so alone.
The social work department will continue to be available for caregivers for care consultations and emotional support. The pandemic is an isolating experience for everyone. We are here for our caregivers to try and decrease some of their isolation so they can continue providing care for their person with dementia.