Stay Safe Caregivers
What, really, more can be said about what is happening surrounding the coronavirus at this moment? We are all likely pretty well saturated with the news and information at this point, and things change so fast it is hard to keep up. It can be scary, it can be frustrating, it can be a constant nerve racking cycle. Yet it is important to take care of yourself and your loved ones during this time, not just physically but by taking care of your mental health and theirs as well.
Caregivers are often told that it is critically important to practice self-care. This is especially true during a time of crisis where your stress, already elevated, will likely be getting higher as your deal with the external factors surrounding the shelter in place orders, the news about Covid-19, and whatever else is happening in your life and the world that day.
Remember that you staying safe and sane throughout all of this is critically important if you are a caregiver. Do not forget about yourself or you risk causing yourself more pain as you struggle to keep up with your life and your caregiving responsibilities. Remember that you should always:
- Have 15 minutes a day just for yourself – a walk (walks are okay still just keep to recommended social distancing space between you and others), a cup of coffee or tea off on your own, even just 15 minutes to sit quietly and organize your thoughts makes a huge difference. Treat this time as sacred and make sure that you find a way to get it for yourself each day. It seems like such a small thing but it does make a huge difference.
- Eating Healthy – hospice patients often may have different food cravings or want not to eat at all. This is very normal and you should never try to get someone who is on hospice to eat if they are not hungry. However, you as a caregiver should make sure to take care of yourself and make sure you are always keeping your health and energy up with nutritional foods. If you are worried about going into the stores right now organizations like the Mountain Volunteer Project (mtvp.org) can help you with your shopping or connecting you to other community resources in Plumas and Lassen County.
- Exercise – Again walking is okay during the shelter in place, as, of course, are most outdoor activities provided you keep a safe distance. Avoid crowded places and do not go to the gym, but as the snow melts and the trails open open we are fortunate to live in a place with endless wonder that is often sparsely populated by other hikers in that area so chances for exercise abound. In the meantime, there are many exercises you can do if you are a senior inside without any equipment. Some websites, like Darebee, have an extensive list of no-equipment needed exercises with great diagrams to help you learn to do them correctly and different levels for people at different skill and fitness levels.
- Engage Your Mind – Audiobooks can be a fantastic way to keep your mind active even if you can’t read as much as you’d like. For Plumas County Residents with active library cards you can go online and borrow and download a huge amount of different audiobooks. These services are available in many different places all over the country, so check with your local library today to see what they have to offer! Podcasts can be a great resource as well, offering up-to-date news as well as pods on almost any topic you can think of, some very serious, some very goofy, some good, some not so great, but a variety to be sure. Streaming services like Netflix are relatively affordable and have a wide assortment of documentaries and other educational items available (as well as, of course, endless movies and television shows if you just need an escape). If you have access to the internet at home regularly you might want to take a free online course right now, too. Learn to play the guitar or how to speak a foreign language while on lockdown or pick from a massive range of topics.
- Be Creative – Of course this can be a great time to finally paint that masterpiece or write the great American novel or sculpt your David. But remember getting creative doesn’t have to be about making something amazing, look around at what is in your house and make new decorations, repaint an old chair, make wind chimes out of soup cans. Anything can become a creative project, let your mind wander and see where it takes you. If you aren’t sure where to start try checking here for a few creative ideas to get started!
- Stay Connected – Talk to people, on the phone, through video chats, through mail or email or texts or whatever you can. It is always okay to say that you are scared or frustrated or concerned or annoyed with everything that is going on. This is always true for caregivers and true for everyone right now. Your mental health is important, and holding things in thinking they will burden others is no way to live your life. Let it out and you will find that sharing your troubles is the first step in helping to make those troubles go away. If you don’t have anyone to talk to about what is going on you can always reach out to Sierra Hospice or try calling 2-1-1 for a list of resources in your area (note: 2-1-1 may not be available in all areas). If you are in crisis or need immediate, but not emergency, support call 1-800-273-8255. If you are experiencing an emergency situation always call 911 first.
Sierra Hospice is committed to bringing your our services and our support throughout this current outbreak as we have always in the past. Please get in touch with us if you need assistance or if there is anyway that we can help. Stay safe caregivers, and stay safe everyone. We are all in this together and only through mutual help and understanding will we come out stronger on the other side.