During the pandemic, more than one-third of people with disabilities have reported needing help to perform activities of daily living (ADL) like using public transportation, going grocery shopping or participating in sports (2010). With a high demand for living and medical care services, disabled people are not able to plan ahead who their caregiver will be, which causes family members, friends, or others to take on the role of a caregiver. With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and safer at home orders, it is important to recognize that the mental health of people with disabilities as well as their caregivers have been affected by this new normal.
The pandemic has brought mental health challenges to people with disabilities by increasing isolation and reducing communication with their caregivers. More importantly, this includes the lack of socialization, having a difficult time following health care safety guidelines, and being unable to communicate about their needs and symptoms to a health care provider. These challenges result in people with disabilities having the need to separate themselves from their past social activities because they start experiencing stigma, isolation and rejection from society during the pandemic (Tobias and Mukhopadhyay, 2017). Unfortunately, if people with disabilities do not receive the necessary accommodations or medical attention needed, they will be likely to be affected mentally by this pandemic.
For people who did not expect to become a caregiver during the pandemic, it has caused them to feel stress with the multiple responsibilities that are required to satisfy the needs of a person with disabilities Caregiving for a disabled family member during the pandemic is challenging, complex, and long lasting, with caregivers rarely receiving adequate preparation for their role (Schulz, 2016). Caregiving for a person with disabilities for a person who works full time, is a parent, and a spouse can take a toll in their everyday life. As a result of this overwhelming everyday stressors, caregivers have a difficult time communicating with the person with disabilities. This communication is important because If the caregiver experiences an extensive burden managing caring for his or her family member and providing necessary accommodations, this limits the necessary resources that the person with disabilities can access. This includes caregivers unable to reach out to assisting living facilities and receiving necessary resources that the person with disability may need (CDC, 2020). Thus, it is important to address the issue of people who are unexpectedly placed as caregivers because of the pandemic.
It is important to understand that people with disabilities are unable to continue with their few daily capabilities because of this pandemic. According to the CDC, people with disabilities require extra precautions because certain medical conditions lead to an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Many individuals are therefore reluctant to accept their disabilities. which often leads to a decline in life quality and mental health conditions due to the lack of necessary emotional support (Griffiths and Maun, 2020). Thus, leading caregivers to feel the same way as the person with disabilities and having a hard time expressing their struggles as a caregiver to others. Research suggests that caregivers have a difficult time talking about being a caregiver because it is emotionally difficult to cope with a person with disabilities that may require medical services (CDC, 2019). At the same time, this shows that caregivers who were not prepared to be caregivers are being affected as well as people with disabilities. This had lead to having a hard time managing their responsibilities of caring for the needs of their diabled member.
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