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COVID-19 has affected every aspect of the health care system, and that includes caregivers, whose normal support systems have been buckled by the pandemic.
THURSDAY, May 7, 2020 (American Heart Association News) -- Melia Wilkinson cares for her husband, Kerry, who in 2014 had a massive stroke.
Today, the 57-year-old has no use of his left hand, limited use of his left leg, and relies on a cane to get around the house. Kerry can do many things on his own, Melia said, but she helps him with daily activities, such as dressing, and manages his medical care.
While caregiving has always been challenging, the era of COVID-19 is fraught with new anxiety."We have nobody," she said. "I worry if I get COVID, there isn't a person who could step in."
The couple and their teenage daughter live near Seattle in King County, Washington, an early U.S. coronavirus hotbed, and far from relatives. Since the virus appeared, Melia has discontinued housekeeping help, and social distancing has put their small network of friends and ex-colleagues out of reach.
Normal support systems have buckled, said clinical psychologist and health care consultant Barry J. Jacobs. For loved ones who need help at home, longtime health aides may now be unavailable. Or families might be torn between allowing outside aides to continue care, risking coronavirus exposure, versus taking over that care – or letting the care gap go unfilled.