Updated: Jan 4, 2021
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
By Sherrie Bethea, MSSW
“As I watched her move slowly through the kitchen, she bent down to pick up a pan from the floor; then reached for her back. I think it was hurting, because she seemed to be struggling to stand up again. I remember when she used to move so fast! How could she move as fast as she did! Underneath her gray hair, and the tired expression on her face, I could still see the energy she once had. The phone rang, and she dragged over to get it. I remember racing her; and she always won! Now her voice is so shaky when she calls out to me. It used to be so strong. Sometimes I feel sad when I look at her. I see a lively, energetic woman fighting to escape a body now trapped by old age.”
What you just read was written by a 16 year-old girl. She was watching her grandmother, who took care of her after school until her parents came home from work. She loved her grandmother’s house, and having her grandmother all to herself! Several years ago, everything changed. Grandmother was no longer safe alone. Now she lives with the girl and her family. THEN – enter the pandemic; and the ‘new normal’!
Parents must now work at home, school takes place at home; but grandmother needs constant care. So how do they manage? *14% of families with unpaid caregivers, report that at least one is a child under age 18. Of 47.9 million caregivers, 3.4 million are children age 18 or younger. Children often help with household chores, run errands, sit with relatives, bring medicine or food, even read and provide companionship to the relative. Young adult parents usually have at least one child who helps with some aspect of caregiving.*
This pandemic has created new concerns for families facing the need for home care. I have talked with people I know, who are now concerned about agency home care, the risk of becoming infected, and the second caregiving crisis it would create. Primary caregivers who contract COVID, would face issues of safety and care for the children in their home.
The responsibility of caregiving, decreases the time that children have for friends, activities, and special time with parents. It is important that they spend pleasant, safe, quality time with their loved one. Young children can read books, talk about their virtual and Zoom school days, and share funny jokes. Teenagers can ask their loved ones to tell stories about their childhood days.
Maintaining close relationships with loved ones is important; but remember that your children and teenagers need as much free time from caregiving as possible. Their safety, emotional well-being, and time with you is so important.
‘Behold children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.’
(Psalm 127:3 NKJV)
(*Source – 2020 Caregiving In the U.S., Research Report (AARP).
Sherrie Lanita Bethea, MSSW 11/11/2020