Since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic many of us have heard the phrase, “This is the new normal”. Social media platforms were flooded with posts agreeing or disagreeing with the assessment. As a professional caregiver I realized that the COVID 19 pandemic was introducing the world to the reality, the “new normal” of being a family caregiver.
But what does “new normal” mean? From what I have observed during the pandemic the “New Normal” is simply change. It is the change from what was to the new reality of what is. The New Normal means loss, not being able to go back to the way things were. The New Normal is highly emotional with anger at not being able to do activities without restrictions and confusion on how to re-establish a meaningful routine. There is disappointment because others don’t seem to understand how serious the situation really is and anxiety because no one is able to tell us exactly what is going on or when all the craziness will come to an end. But most of all there is the frustration of having our life turned upside by chaos and confusion.
Family Caregivers in our communities have been experiencing all of these “new normal” frustrations long before the pandemic even hit. Their journey began when they committed to helping a family member struggling with self-care because of the progression of a chronic illness or dementia. Every family caregiver has experienced their life being turned upside down by the chaos and confusion of caring for a family member.
For many of us, the pandemic has created exhausting physical and emotional challenges we are still trying to figure out. And we want it to be over. So do our family caregivers. They are physically and emotionally exhausted. They want it to be over too. But please remember the next time you meet a family caregiver-they have been dealing with all the challenges of the “new normal” long before you. Have a talk with them. They may have some wisdom and insights to share with you that will help you cope with your “new normal”.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Kent Mathews MSW, Family Caregiver Support Center Lead with PPACG Area Agency on Aging. For more information he may be reached at: 719-471-2096