Being a caregiver is already overwhelming, even if every day is calm and peaceful. Caring for a person adds stress across nearly every aspect of life. And with the added challenges of COVID-19, that stress can blossom into difficult challenges.
However, there are means by which family caregivers can take control of the world around them. With a few simple tips, anyone can increase the dependability of their own resources. Here are three straightforward tips for caregivers looking to reduce instability due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Focus on Adapting and Stress Management
Managing stress during this time is essential for a happy, healthy home. With this in mind, there are several simple things anyone can do to reduce the weight of the current world.
First, it is important to stick to your daily routines. Normalcy and the familiar will allow you to feel in control. Plus, it will help those in your care continue their needed habits, such as medication or health monitoring.
Though it might be difficult, stay positive. Keep in contact with your own support system. Talk to relatives and friends more often. Or, use social media to connect with friends across the globe. Self-care is more significant now than ever, especially for caregivers who often forget their own needs in light of those they care for.
Finally, focus on your family’s mental and physical health. Now is an essential time to end unhealthy practices in the home. Switch to heart-healthy meals, and get plenty of daily exercise. This can be as simple as daily walks and noon-time aerobics. Personalize the activities to yourself and those in your care. Make use of the natural areas around you, such as nature trails and parks. Getting out reduces stress and keeps everyone happy and healthy.
Keep Your Home and Car in Top Shape
Keeping your major assets in working order is almost as important as your own health. As a caregiver, your home and car are essential pieces of caregiving equipment—both must be well-maintained. Plus, one must be prepared to adapt to the differing needs of those in your care, especially as they age or their conditions change.
First, make a list of any major items in the home that need to be maintained or repaired. Have your HVAC unit serviced? Replace old attic insulation with higher-valued spray foam. Have professionals come in to replace filters and clean your ductwork.
You might also need to upgrade your home for better accessibility. A complete home overhaul can cost around $100,000. You can start small and adapt as the family needs. For example, grab bars can cost $400 to install, but they can delay the need to replace an entire bathroom.
Prioritizing your home improvement needs will help ensure your money is being spent on the most impactful items.
Don’t forget car care. Routine maintenance and usage are crucial. Be sure to continue to follow normal tune-up schedules. Driving the car regularly will help ensure its systems stay lubricated and mobile.
If you’ve had to alter or upgrade to a chair-accessible vehicle, be sure all seatbelts are safe and functioning. Buckling up saved close to 15,000 lives in 2017 alone, and if everyone wore a seatbelt, 2,500 more lives would have been saved. Make seat belts easy to use for everyone by installing buckle guards. Additionally, seat belt reachers can help the less-mobile reach and secure their seatbelts more easily.
Keeping your home and car in top shape adds a level of stability to your life. Knowing that your major assets are functioning at top safety and efficiency not only reduces stress, it also assures you that your family is safe during these uncertain times.
Stay On Top of Your Finances
Being a family caregiver is expensive. A recent AARP study shows that families are spending close to $8,000 a year on caregiving expenses, not to mention the number of unpaid hours that being a caregiver consumes each week. And with COVID-19, unexpected expenses seem to arise every week.
Staying on top of your home’s finances is now more important than ever. It’s no longer enough to focus on reducing spending and starting a savings account. With the extra responsibilities of being a caregiver, it is beneficial to be proactive with your finances.
If possible, look into setting up investment accounts, especially if you still work and your employer has a benefits plan. Employee-matched Health Spending Accounts can accept family contributions up to $7,000 each year. And, these funds carry over. These are particularly attractive for families with routine health expenses and high deductibles.
It is also imperative to maintain strong credit. Using a secured credit card can help you quickly and safely build credit from scratch. If you’ve had credit issues in the past, secured cards can be an excellent option to rebuild. As the credit limits are set with an initial security deposit, they work great to fit your regular financial needs.
Having credit at your disposal can help cushion unexpected expenses. Surprise medical needs or household items don’t need to ruin a budget. Plus, building credit will allow for loans and mortgages with premium rates. If you know you’ll need a larger home to accommodate those in your care, then proactively building your credit can save thousands of dollars on a mortgage.
The common thread between these three tips is taking greater control. Though funds and time are often at a premium, important aspects of life must take priority. Work on upgrading your home and car for efficiency and adaptability. And don’t neglect your finances; having financial safety nets is more important than ever.
Most importantly, take time every day to focus on yourself. Find what reduces stress and incorporate it into your daily schedule. You’re a caregiver; be sure to give yourself care as well, especially during the continued uncertainty of the pandemic.
This post was written by Jessica Larson of SolopreneurJournal.com