Advice for caregivers as pandemic persists

Caregivers have been a critical group providing needed services during the pandemic. We spoke with Dr. Pauline Boss, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota about caregiving in a time of such uncertainty.

Duet is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote health and well-being through vitally needed services to homebound adults, family caregivers, faith communities, and families. The organization held a virtual symposium to help family caregivers with coping and staying resilient during the pandemic. Dr. Boss was one of the speakers.

At the symposium, Dr. Boss spoke about the importance of identifying losses before you can cope with them. “The pandemic has been full of losses. We are, in fact, a nation, if not a world, in grief right now,” Dr. Boss said. She identifies two different types of losses and examples:

The first of these are clear losses or losses that can be measured. Such as:

  • Loss of salary
  • Loss of job
  • Loss of retirement income

The other type of loss is an ambiguous loss, in which the loss is less immediately clear. These can include:

  • Loss of being able to touch someone outside of your home
  • Loss of trust in the world
  • Loss of going to the gym

Once you identify your losses, Dr. Boss suggests listing them and then allowing yourself time to grieve. “It’s okay to grieve those losses, even while the person is still alive because they are major losses to you and you need to identify them, rather than push them down,” Dr. Boss said.

Then, Dr. Boss says to find meaning and new hope in the current circumstance. “The meaning for caregiving, for example, needs to be more than a burden. Which, of course, it is. It’s darn hard work. I’ve been a caregiver too, so I know that it’s unbelievably difficult work, but it has to have another meaning. If you can search for that and find it, that will be helpful,” Dr. Boss said.

 

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Dr. Pauline Boss, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota

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