The COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic effect on nearly everyone in the United States, and family caregivers have been hit especially hard. The effects of the pandemic on caregivers are broad and wide-reaching, affecting millions of family caregivers across the country. Increased stress is one of the main results of the pandemic, as is difficulty with access to medical care services or organizations. These issues already existed before the pandemic but were amplified to heightened levels once lockdowns began and people had to adapt. Below are more details on how the pandemic has impacted family caregivers.
One of the main effects of the pandemic on caregivers has been increased stress. A recent study published in The Gerontologist compared 576 family caregivers to nearly 3,000 non-caregivers. In the study, the family caregivers (average age, 59) reported higher anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. Those caregivers also reported less social interaction, increased food insecurity, and increased worries and issues with finances, even after controlling for factors like income and employment. Being a family caregiver is already a highly stressful job for most people, so social isolation made an already stressful job even more stressful.
A researcher at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies also looked into how the pandemic affected caregivers’ mental and physical health around the same time. That study distinguished short-term caregivers, those who assisted for a year or less, and long-term caregivers (1+ years caregiving). The findings showed that while family caregivers suffered more psychological distress and fatigue than non-caregivers, the length of service among the caregivers made a significant difference. Long-term caregivers had much higher rates of physical symptoms like headaches, body aches, and abdominal discomfort.
One of the other effects of the pandemic on caregivers was trouble accessing health care, either for themselves or their loved ones. Some caregivers were looking into receiving additional medical care (such as surgeries) for their loved ones. But once the pandemic hit, hospitals were rapidly filling with COVID-19 patients, and medical professionals put other types of care on hold. Because care such as surgeries or physical therapy was unavailable, more responsibilities fell to family caregivers, increasing their workload in addition to preventing them from getting the care their loved ones needed.
While family caregivers can provide simple tasks such as picking up groceries, transportation, or basic check-ins, other caregiving tasks require trained medical professionals, who have become harder to access during the pandemic.
The effects of the pandemic on caregivers have been devastating to millions of families across the nation. To give your senior loved ones the best care possible and relieve the stress of being a family caregiver, reach out to Neighborly Home Care. We will work with you and your family to ensure that all of your loved ones’ caregiving needs are met while maintaining their sense of independence and peace. Our highly qualified caregivers are experienced in providing quality senior care services and solutions, such as disability care, respite care, and full time in home care. To see how we can help you and your loved ones, contact us today.