Kathi Koll Foundation - Unnamed 1

In the midst of a pandemic, hope can seem hard to find.

Anger, frustration, and dismay may seem like easy emotions to slide into, but hope is all around you if you look for it. Hope is in the sounds of birds outside your window. It’s in the flower popping up in a crack in the pavement. It’s also in the people who are fighting to save people’s lives whether by working at hospitals, making homemade masks, or staying inside to safeguard others.

Hope also resides in the increased notice many people are now taking of the most vulnerable people in our population.

Kendra Webster, the executive director of the Coast Caregiver Resource Center, has seen both her staff and her service community, which includes Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties, rise to meet the challenges that both the coronavirus and social distancing have caused.

“I’ve seen creativity from my staff, and I’m heartened to see how the community is coming together and paying attention and helping people out,” Webster said. “I think it’s great when the needs of older adults are highlighted instead of ignored or not really seen. I think that has been a silver lining of this crisis.”

Each county in California has a resource center like the one Webster leads, and these centers are seeing increased volunteerism while they also offer expanded and adapted services to meet new demands. This means different things to different caregivers. Some need respite opportunities so they can take breaks, while others seek help with errands, such as grocery shopping or prescription pickups.

Center interns have carried hot meals and activity packs with crafts and puzzles to caregivers’ homes. Support groups have moved online via Zoom, and check-in phone calls have brought a sense of connection to isolated people.

All of these endeavors are designed to bring not just caring, but also hope to caregivers and their loved ones.

If you’re a caregiver needing a dose of hope, here are some ideas to help bring some to your door.

1) Reach Out

After weeks of being stuck indoors, connection with the outside world may be your biggest need. If you’ve never contacted a caregiver resource center, try making a call today. Webster said, “We are encouraging people to reach out if they never have done so before. This is an especially challenging time, but there are a lot of people that care. It’s always worth making that phone call to see what services you’re interested in.”

2) Think Outside the Box

The organization Family Proud offers a website designed to help families that may be spread out around the country. A caregiver can create tasks on the site so family members can then choose which items to do. For example, check-in calls may be orchestrated so they don’t all come on the same day. Family Proud also performs its own wellness checks and is available at all times for an online chat. Company co-founder Jaden Risner said these services provide connection and hope, because caregivers and loved ones “know there’s someone there for them.”

3) Turn Off the Electronics

While the phone and computer can be great connectors, they can also have depressing and infuriating content. Too much screen time is linked to depression, and social media is particularly problematic. So schedule ample time to break out a board game, piece together a puzzle, or sit at a window and take in the sights. All of these activities bring joy, connection and hope, and they reduce depression. Even if your window looks out on a parking lot, you might be surprised how much there is to see out there. Just the feel of sunlight warming your face can brighten your day.

4) See Your World Anew

This may be the perfect time to notice what feels good in your life and do more of it. If you used to love reading and have gotten out of the habit, take a beloved book off your shelf and dust it off. You’ll be surprised how a trip to that author’s world can be rejuvenating. Pull out drawing supplies, a dusty musical instrument, or a model airplane kit. Take this time inside to find pleasure in the simple things that you may have forgotten that you enjoyed. Try something new each day, even it’s just opening a junk drawer to see what treasures are inside. And if you take a walk each day, try to appreciate something new outdoors, whether it’s a bird or a flower or a house that hadn’t previously caught your attention. People need novelty, and you may be surprised how much of it is right under your nose.

If nothing else, take time to remember that this too shall pass. There is always a reason to hope.

Thank you for reading, please share with a friend and be well! —Kathi Koll

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