Inequality in the Pandemic University
October 16, 2020
The American Prospect on Family Care
October 22, 2020

By Amy Armenia


Even before COVID-19, family caregivers for the elderly and disabled were under intense stress, reporting higher levels of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and compromised physical health. The Shape of Care podcast, produced by Network member Mindy Fried, has shared the concerns and stories of family caregivers. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated all of these stresses, in different ways depending on living and caring situations.

For family caregivers who are living with the care recipient, they may find themselves more isolated and with access to fewer outside resources. Cahan et al. discuss these risks and make suggestions for five ways the health care system can support family caregivers, including provision of protective equipment and access to formal health care systems.

In a survey report from the Rosalynn Carter Institute, caregivers report higher levels of stress, more isolation, and fewer other caregivers available to help them during the pandemic. They also note a wide range of impacts on both caregivers and receivers, and a decline in the quality of the relationship between them.

Even when individuals are living in nursing homes, family members often continue to provide considerable care and assistance for their loved ones. As the pandemic began, the closure of these institutions to outsiders created more anxiety and trauma for residents and family members. CBC correspondents Ioanna Roumeliotis and Melissa Mancini provide a stark picture of the stress placed on caregivers and receivers as care homes in Canada closed to visits, and as they begin to allow visits under heavy restrictions.

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