Saturday, June 15Hampton Roads Weekly

Resiliency for Family Caregivers: Navigating Times of Crisis

Times of crisis may bring out both the best and also the worst in us. During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve heard stories of people hoarding items and selling them in order to make an excessive profit, along with stories of people who selflessly met the needs of others despite their own fears.

The key to weathering the storms in an appropriate way is resiliency. Mia Bartoletti, clinical psychologist for the Navy SEAL Foundation, works with families of individuals serving in the armed forces, and provides tips which can help build resiliency for family caregivers through any time of crisis.

1. Express your reactions. It is common to experience many different responses to a crisis: flashbacks to other overwhelming situations, dreams and nightmares, withdrawal and avoidance, challenges with sleeping, irritability, problems with concentration and focus, and hypervigilance. What is crucial is to make certain these responses are temporary, and do not progress into longer-term psychological problems. Admit your feelings, and communicate them with a reliable confidante, or write them in a diary. 

2. Maintain social connections. While your reaction might be to pull away from friends and relatives during a crisis, remaining in touch on a frequent basis with people you care about is important. Locating a support group, whether in person or online, is another good way to guarantee you’re forming and maintaining social ties, enabling you to talk with other individuals in a similar circumstance. This gives our aging and often compromised immune systems an added boost. Seniors get the combined benefit of improved resistance to disease, and the ability to fight infections faster.

3. Take time for self-care. This means different things to each and every individual, but ought to include enjoyable activities, engaging hobbies and interests, wholesome meals, plenty of sleep, and exercise. If you find it is hard to carve out self-care time for yourself due to caregiving duties, Seniorcorp is always here to partner with you to offer trusted respite care. Taking good care of yourself enables you to take better care of those you love.

4. Accept what you are able to control – and that which you cannot. Letting go of what’s out of your control and focusing instead on what you CAN control is one of the fundamentals of resilience. Psychologist Mary Alvord, who founded Resilience Across Borders, explains, “Depression is hopelessness and helplessness, and so resilience is the opposite. No, you’re not helpless; you do have control over many aspects of your life.”

It’s always a smart idea to seek professional counseling when your responses to stressful circumstances are impeding your ability to maintain a feeling of calm and to tend to the necessary daily activities of living. And, watch out for signs that senior family members are going through excessive degrees of stress so that you can obtain the help that they need also.

by Seniorcorp

We are glad to help you anytime and can be reached at (757) 640-0557.

Seniorcorp, providers of senior care services in Portsmouth and the surrounding area, offers information on resiliency for family caregivers during times of crisis.