In a recent Benefits & Worklife Zoom webinar titled Coping With COVID Conversations: Remote Workers Caring for an Aging Adult, panelists addressed caring for a loved one during the pandemic and offered self-care strategies for caregivers and resources for support.
During the conversation, which was moderated by Jeanne Lovy, director of Family Support Services in the Office of Benefits & Worklife, Johns Hopkins employees candidly shared their own experiences and challenges, and asked the panelists questions.
Panelists were Barbara Fowler, lifespan services specialist in the Office of Benefits & Worklife; Linda Stewart, caregiver program manager for Bayview Medical Center's Called to Care Program; and Jamie Karl, an administrative specialist in the School of Medicine, who is caring for her mother during COVID-19.
The following insights were shared:
Develop a daily routine. It can take time, and it can be difficult to stick to, but having a routine helps one feel organized and more in control. If there are others supporting your loved one, communicate your routine to them and make sure everyone has clear roles.
Balance safety and your loved one's independence. It's not easy. Try to set safety boundaries related to using personal protection equipment and going out in public while also finding ways to allow your loved one to feel independent.
Use a problem-solving approach. Taking care of a loved one can be overwhelming, and having a plan can minimize that stress. The mySupport program can help with this.
Focus on self-care. Exercise outside or at home, take a meditation session with Neda Gould, or treat yourself to something you've been wanting.
Take time off. Even though you may not be traveling, taking personal days is important for your mental health.
Lean on family and friends, and see family in a larger context. Not everyone has support from immediate family. Friends, faith groups, neighbors, and extended family can be supports, too. Share with your co-workers if you feel comfortable, as they may have had similar experiences.
You don't have to do everything by yourself. Take advantage of resources and supports listed below.
Complete advance medical and financial directives. All adults should have these, but they become more salient as one gets older. It may seem daunting, but it is not as complicated as one may think. Templates and support are available through mySupport.
Have your loved one's contact and medication information documented. Make a list of medications and doctors, pharmacy, neighbors, etc.
- Called to Care
- mySupport, available 24/7 for confidential counseling and referral services
- Backup Care
- Work Stride: Managing Cancer at Work
- Area Agency on Aging
- HUB article on emergency preparedness for older adults
- Elder care kits available through Aetna. Call 443-997-7000, select option #2, and "request an elder care kit." The kit includes educational materials such as data sheets on home safety, managing medications, and nutrition for elders.
To request a recording of the Coping with COVID: Remote Workers Caring for an Aging Adult panel discussion, or for questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.