Submitted by: Kent Mathews, Family Caregiver Support Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging

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.  Many people welcomed the change while many others were upset with the disruption in their daily lives.   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.  It means not being able to go back to the way things were.  The New Normal is highly emotional.  There is anger at
not being able to do activities without restrictions.  There is confusion on how to re-establish a meaningful routine.  There is disappointment because others don’t seem to understand how serious the situation is really. There is 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. They too experienced anger and not being able to “just get away” for
a break.  They have experienced confusion because of not knowing what resources are available to help and where to go to get those resources.  They know the daily disappointment and hurt when others don’t seem to care about the physical and emotional challenges they live with on a daily basis.  They feel the daily anxiety of not knowing when or how it will all end.  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 physical and emotional challenges we are still trying to figure out.  It is tiring and exhausting physically and emotionally. 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”.

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