Caregiving and Covid!

Caregiving in normal times is not easy but caregiving in this time of pandemic is like a burden on top of a burden. For normal families and households the restrictions are irksome, but for the caregiver it brings added stress and isolation. With the limited facility of mixing with others for social distancing purposes, and trips to the stores curtailed, it creates a greater sense of imprisonment. I know, because we experience it. Living in a Retirement Community we are encouraged to go out only for medical appointments. To do otherwise almost appears discourteous to the other residents. Our age group is extremely vulnerable and we need to be wise and take care.

As some of you know, my wife Rita has had Parkinson’s for over twelve years and has progressed to the stage where she can now do very little for herself. It hurts to see that decline and downward progression in a person who exercised regularly, to now being unable to move without assistance. To be so dependent on others is depressing for her. Before the pandemic a lady from the church would visit for a couple of hours a week to allow me to take a break and allow Rita to chat with someone other than me. However, that is no longer permissible. Sadly we can have no such visitors. We are fortunate to have family and friends who will run errands for us, for which we are most grateful.

For those who care for loved ones with dementia, the isolation is even more acute due to the lack of good communication. I feel blessed because my wife is fully cognitive, which affords us good discussion. That helps with mental stimulation. We try to keep up the laughter and the joy of living. This is imperative to keep the spirits up. I constantly assure Rita of my love and encourage her as much as possible, which helps to overcome the potential threat of depression. Little acts of care also help.

Yet, in all of this, I can readily identify with other caregivers who express feelings of constant fatigue and total exhaustion. I have to admit that sometimes I feel on top of the world and think I can care for my wife forever, then at a different time I wonder whether I can see the month out. I think the prayers of many people carry us along and God provides the strength we need daily.

My reason for writing this is simply to say that, in the midst of your dealing with the inconveniences of these extraordinary pandemic days, spare a thought for caregivers. You probably know someone in that position who is caring for a spouse, a parent, or a child. Give them a call, write them a note, shoot off an email. Let them know you are thinking of them and that you care for them. Give a word of encouragement. If you ask them if there is anything you can do, don’t be surprised if the answer is simply, “Pray for us!”