3 Tips for Covid Caregiving
With many schools considering going remote, working parents are scrambling to figure out how to provide care for their children. As they do, they are beginning to face some of the same thorny caregiving questions that already abound for those on the other end of the aging spectrum, who have relied on regular in-home care since before the pandemic. We are all increasingly compelled to ask: when are our loved ones too young or too old to be safe by themselves? For those whose care needs are more ambiguous, it can be hard to know: is it riskier to leave them home alone, or with a caregiver who has been out and about? When and how do parents and children find ways to take on caregiving responsibilities themselves? As the prospect of remote schooling increases the demand for caregiving services, these questions are becoming more common and important. Here are three tips for addressing them from the team at Age Friendly Advisors.
- Make use of new technologies. Zoom has saved the professional world, and there is no reason to believe that technology can’t help allay caregiving concerns as well. Checking in regularly on FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom is one way to make sure a loved one is staying safe. For those at higher risk, now might be a great time to try out a medical alert system, which provides a wearable call button to summon a family member or emergency services in the event of a fall or incident. Finally, there are a host of smart technologies that can detect things like stoves left on, water leaks, air quality problems, and overflowing baths. They can also provide medication reminders, adjust room temperatures, and turn on and off lights.
- Take advantage of the chance to work remotely. While many professions are hard or impossible to balance with simultaneous caregiving, some people have found ways to stay home with their kids or move in with their aging parents and keep an eye out while also getting their work done. For some, the out-of-office lifestyle has freed up time in between meetings and obligations, and provided some much-needed availability to attend to caregiving responsibilities throughout the day.
- Hire careful caregivers. For others, hiring or keeping caregivers around is unavoidable. The good news is that bringing in caregivers can be safe for all involved so long as precautions are taken. It is essential to look out for the safety of both those giving and receiving care. If a care recipient is showing symptoms or knows they have been exposed, notify the caregiver right away so they can stay home if they need to. When possible, remain physically distanced, wear masks even inside, and wash hands thoroughly and often. Communicate openly and try to create a “quarantine bubble” with the caregiver if they are able.
Have you had any luck finding creative ways to care or be cared for during covid? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Eve Driver is a freelance feature contributor and a graduate of Harvard University. She writes on a variety of topics including aging, climate change, and political polarization. Her work has appeared in Harvard Magazine and the Harvard Political Review.