The past year has been tough on us all–including caregivers! Caregivers who have carried on doing their absolute best to take care of their loved ones during these difficult times.

Not only do you need to worry about your own health during a pandemic, but you are also responsible for the daily care and ongoing health of someone else.

Social distancing and state mandates have meant that the usual support networks have been disrupted. Both caregivers and recipients of care can’t see their friends and family who used to support them in a variety of ways. COVID-19 and depression have gone hand-in-hand during the pandemic, especially for those most at risk of isolation and loneliness.

What to Look Out For

Such disruption to our daily routines, coupled with the added stress of a global pandemic, takes its toll on our mental health. There’s no shame in acknowledging that you might be struggling more than usual, even if you usually think of yourself as a resilient person.

There is a natural connection between COVID-19 and anxiety, especially for caregivers. Many personal care assistants are providing care for vulnerable people who might be at high risk for developing the most serious symptoms of the virus. Worrying about their health and your own might leave you feeling burnt out, overly stressed, and/or experiencing symptoms of depression. These might include insomnia, mood swings, frequent crying, or depressive moods that are out of character.

When it comes to COVID-19 and mental health, it’s important that you don’t shy away from any negative feelings or difficult mental states that you might encounter. You don’t have to shoulder the burden alone, even if you’re living in isolation. There are communities and areas of support available to you, even during the pandemic. Reach out to local PCA networks, care home helplines, or mental health advice centers if you feel like you need someone to talk to.

Practical Tips for a Healthy, Happy Environment

In the meantime, there are also some practical caregiver tips that can help you manage your own and your recipient of care’s mental health during the pandemic. Now, more than ever, is time to put some clear structures in place to create a happy, healthy environment.

  • The first is to keep moving. We might find ourselves indoors more frequently, but getting daily exercise can do wonders for your mental health. If your recipient of care has mobility issues, try finding some aerobics exercises that they can do while seated. Even the smallest activities can make a big difference.
  • When it comes to senior care help, maintaining links to friends and family is vital. Try to include video calls in the daily routine so that everyone involved has something fun to look forward to. Having a call with family can help to break up an otherwise monotonous week.
  • Try to also focus on the present as much as possible. The future might seem scary and uncertain, but we can only control what’s in front of us right now.
  • Fill your day with as much joy and kindness as you can, and focus on that to get through even the darkest times.
  • Finally, be sure to not neglect your own mental health.

The above tips can help a caregiver just as much as they can help a recipient of care. If you start to feel overwhelmed or drained from the toll of the pandemic, don’t put off getting yourself some support. Reach out to friends, family, or professional support networks where you can. Just as you would put the health and safety of a recipient of care first, you need to take care of your own mental health just as fiercely.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.