For home caregivers, COVID-19 pandemic adds extra stress to an already stressed-out population

"While so many people throughout the world are experiencing levels of isolation and loneliness they have never experienced before because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly Osthoff is no stranger to those two words and the impactful meaning behind them.

Osthoff is the director of regional programs for the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.


As part of her work, she and her organization support family home caregivers — unpaid, non-professionals who are caring for their loved ones who have Alzheimer’s.


This level of care is a full-time job. It often requires 24-7 care and attention.


With it comes plenty of responsibility, stress and emotional and physical challenges.


And, while seemingly everyone has been affected by the pandemic one way or another, it may be difficult to find a population more greatly affected than home caregivers caring for people with dementia.


"Before the pandemic, being a caregiver (already) brought such emotional burden, anxiety and stress to people," Osthoff said. "When you compound those two things — the stress of being a caregiver and then the stress of the pandemic, on top of it — there’s anxiety to keep yourself healthy so you can remain the caregiver. … You add in the complexities of living with dementia and struggling to keep up with the hygiene practices, the social distancing and just the behavioral management. It’s added stress to an already stressed-out population."


Jillian Broce is the Family Caregiver Program Coordinator for the Weld County Area Agency on Aging. The agency assists older adults with all aspects of their daily lives, including helping to provide home care to those who need it.


For family caregivers and the people they are caring for, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges to an already- challenging home situation, while also intensifying the many challenges that already existed. "


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