Post-Pandemic Caregiving – What Will It Look Like?

By on March 10, 2021
post-pandemic caregiving

Think of an adult daughter who sees her mother in an assisted living center several times a week. The daughter shares meals with her and notices what she is eating. She observes if her mother has bathed and what she is wearing. She checks the batteries in her hearing aid and whether her phone is charged. She hears funny stories about her mother’s dance class and chess match.  Even if she knows her mother is well cared for, the daughter enjoys spending time with her mother and knowing how she is feeling. But last year, those visits ended abruptly.

The coronavirus pandemic led to major changes in caregiving for older adults. To protect vulnerable seniors, the government-mandated restrictions on visitors in long-term care facilities. They also halted communal meals and group activities. While these changes most certainly helped halt the spread of coronavirus, they also isolated caregivers and their loved ones.

Those living in the senior care facilities were impacted too. One benefit of senior care facilities is they have a full calendar of social and recreational activities. Pausing these activities while banning visitors made some residents feel isolated. 

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Home caregivers felt alone as well. To protect an older loved one, they discouraged visits from relatives. As restaurants and gyms closed, caregivers lost social outlets and ways to reduce stress.

What Will Post-Pandemic Caregiving Look Like?

The rollout of the coronavirus vaccine signals light at the end of the tunnel. Experts predict a gradual return to normal activity over the course of the year. But how will post-pandemic caregiving change?

Relief for Home Caregivers

According to a May 2020 Genworth survey, one out of three Americans became caregivers overnight during the pandemic. They spent an average of nine additional nine hours a week caring for children or older adults, with many balancing remote work with caregiving. Now, with pandemic restrictions easing, help is available for home caregivers. Immunized family members who hesitated to visit before, can come over and assist. The adult receiving care sees their children and grandchildren and the primary caregiver gets an afternoon off. Without the worry of contracting coronavirus, it is safer to hire in-home help to give the primary caregiver a reprieve. 

After a difficult year, caregivers can explore ways to reduce stress and practice self-care. As gyms and meeting places reopen, caregivers can refocus on their own wellbeing. 

While most care facilities followed CDC guidelines and kept their residents safe, there were some highly publicized outbreaks in senior communities. As a result, some families were concerned about the safety of senior living facilities. Alleviating the threat of coronavirus will make families confident about choosing a senior living community for a loved one who needs assisted living or memory care.

Predictions for Care Facilities 

By last fall, most states allowed outdoor visits under certain circumstances. When vaccines became available at the end of the year, residents and staff at senior living communities had top priority. While the timeline keeps changing, experts predict that all Americans will be immunized by the end of July. 

As the year progresses, and positivity rates for coronavirus continue to decline, states will relax visitor restrictions on care facilities based on federal guidelines.  

Even when visits resume, some restrictions will likely remain in place this year. Expect to have a temperature check and to answer health questions. You will still have to wear a mask and maintain six feet of social distancing.

The coronavirus vaccine is helping to bring the pandemic to an end. The end of quarantine allows more freedom for older adults and caregivers. But the changes will phase in slowly over the next year with certain protections, like mask use and social distancing, remaining in place. By 2022, hugs between grandkids and grandparents should be back for good.

By Allie Santos, Executive Director of Vineyard Henderson

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Post-Pandemic Caregiving – What Will It Look Like?