Caring for family caregivers dealing with added COVID-19 stress

Family caregiver Kathryn Kellerman with her Mom
Bucket List Babes
Kathryn Kellerman and Kelly Mendes
Posted at 7:09 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 00:17:05-05

These days, "social distancing" means more than just staying 6 feet away from people you care about. For COVID-19 caregivers, that distance can make them feel increasingly isolated and more stressed while taking on more responsibilities.

That's why a group of Central Coast friends, who call themselves the "Bucket List Babes" are helping a COVID-19 caregiver through these challenging times.

It's been months since Kathryn Kellerman of Atascadero hugged her daughter, who has a chronic illness, and three grandkids without worrying about spreading COVID-19.

"COVID is mean. It steals our family time."

The 51-year-old is one of many COVID-19 caregivers. Kellerman is helping her elderly mother and other loved ones in quarantine due to the virus.

Family caregiver Kathryn Kellerman with her Mom

"It is a total schedule. I have a schedule for when I get my mom her shopping list. I have a schedule for when I shop for her. I have a schedule for when I help another friend with their cleaning of the house."

But if there's one person Kellerman forgets to take care of it's herself. A study by NORC at the University of Chicago shows caregivers reported fear and anxiety as they struggled to balance their own physical and mental health needs with those of the loved one in their care.

Thankfully, Kellerman has her "Bucket List Babes": Kathryn, Amy, Steph, Kim, Dani, and Kelly Mendes. They have been friends for years. The group used to go out and have fun before the pandemic hit.

"Bucket List Babes"

"We're always offering to help her (Kathryn) but she doesn't always let us!" says Mendes.

Although they are physically distant now, they can still be there for each other thanks to technology.

"There's a lot of group text going on. On those hard days, somebody's always checking in with somebody."

Whether you are taking care of a loved one or know someone who does, the ladies say there are some things we can all do to make someone's day a little brighter.

Mendes says, "We always try to encourage each other to reach out."

Kellerman says sometimes one question could make all the difference.

"(Ask) 'How are you doing?' Not in passing, but stop and really mean it. Listen to the answer. And if there's anything you can do, do it."