For many of Washington’s more than 850,000 unpaid family caregivers, the COVID-19 pandemic has added stress and burden to an already difficult job. Caregivers have reported that providing care is more emotionally, physically, and financially difficult than normal, according to a University of Pittsburg survey. A majority reported that the pandemic has increased their caregiving efforts or duties, while more than 1 in 5 reported that the pandemic was interfering with their own health.
Family caregivers manage health emergencies, juggle priorities and suffer isolation and all that was before COVID. The pandemic brings even more challenges and family caregivers handle caregiving in crisis. Many Washingtonians are taking on extra caregiving duties because paid caregivers are reducing their visits or because they’ve decided to take their loved ones out of nursing homes or other residential settings.
Some family caregivers have opted to distance themselves from their loved ones for health reasons, and providing remote care and check-ins can be an added challenge. Other caregivers may be unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic and are struggling to continue supporting their loved ones.
Every year in November, we celebrate Family Caregiver Month. This year, we acknowledge the new realities family caregivers face with their loved ones during these uncertain times.
These individuals provide an estimated 770 million hours and nearly $11 billion in unpaid essential assistance to loved ones, friends, and neighbors with chronic illness, disabilities, and other special needs every year.
Many family caregivers do not see themselves as caregivers so they do not seek out supports and services available to them through Washington’s caregiver programs. Especially now, these programs can help reduce the burden on caregivers while helping their loved ones remain in their homes for a longer period of time. Caregivers who want more information on Washington’s supports for unpaid caregivers can visit the Washington Community Living Connections website or call 1-855-567-0252.