In the past few years, thousands of families worldwide have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused even more family members to take care of loved ones who have been infected, putting themselves at high risk of exposure.
This issue carries great importance for myself and my family since, over this winter break, my mom got COVID-19, most likely the Omicron variant, and it was up to my dad and I to take care of her.
Taking care of those with COVID at home has become one of the most daunting tasks. ith a limited number of hospital beds, ventilators and the level of contamination, family members feel the stress to ensure that their loved one is well enough to stay home. This means monitoring their temperature, food and water intake, oxygen levels and other symptoms. For my family, putting food outside my mom’s door, Facetiming even though we were in the same house and monitoring her symptoms helped us cope with our stress. It was critical for me and my dad to watch how my mom’s condition was evolving since Omicron is so unpredictable, which was also reassuring to us.
One American University Student, Holly Scanlon, 19, became an at-home patient after testing positive for COVID.
“It was nice to feel taken care of, but there’s always that feeling that you’re being a burden,” Scanlon said. Her statement represents the feeling that patients, including my mom, felt while being taken care of.
However, it is crucial for patients to know that you are not a burden in the slightest and that taking care of loved ones with COVID-19, while it is stressful, is also extremely reassuring to family members that their relative is in good hands.
According to the CDC, the best ways to take care of someone at home who is battling COVID-19, try over the counter medicine for fevers and aces, ensure that they drink lots water and fluids to stay hydrated, and try to limit contact with the individual and continue to sanitize surfaces and use lysol to disinfect air. However, if symptoms worsen, including having trouble breathing, persistent pain in the chest, confusion, extreme fatigue and blue or gray colored lips or nails seek medical attention immediately.
For patients and caretakers alike, this has caused a mass increase in mental health issues over the past two years. The pressure of taking care of family responsibilities while others are sick can escalate anxiety and depression. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that during the pandemic, 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. The KFF also reported an increase in binge eating and oversleeping due to the stress of the pandemic. However, while these habits may seem unhealthy, they are completely valid feelings to be undergoing during these extreme and stressful times.
Throughout the past nearly three years, everyone has experienced the effects of COVID-19 and together as a community we will get through this pandemic, but taking care of one another.