The impact of COVID-19 on caregivers

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Being a caregiver is challenging under normal circumstances. Today, with the COVID virus, it makes it even more challenging. Typically, structure is something that's strived for to keep the sanity and things flowing within a household when there's somebody who has extra care that's needed. When there's a disruption in the structure, it's a domino effect onto the person providing care, which adds stress to everybody in the household. And that's an ongoing challenge.

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How do you balance work and caregiving?

You look at the hours that you're working versus the hours you're providing care, there's a constant pull between those two. And a feeling of always being tired. So the best thing I can recommend as a mom with a special needs child, is that you have to ask for help. You can't do all of it on your own no matter how much you'd like to.

The other thing is remember to take time for yourself. You need some quiet time, some respite time in order to keep your sanity and to be able to find some space to be a better person for the person you're trying to care for and assist.

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What can employers do to support their caregiver employees?

As an employer, for the family member who does want to continue working and loves their career, or maybe they have to keep working because they need health insurance, in that situation the best thing the employer can do is provide additional flexibility and empathy. Again, you don't know their day starts, you don't know how their day ended the day before, so you need to be flexible and be kind and not presume that you know what's going on in their lives. Many family members really choose not to talk about the struggles that they have and they like to keep it private. So be empathetic and flexible is my best recommendation.