Stress and anxiety are sky-high at our house lately. My 95-year-old father-in-law has been struggling during the pandemic, and we've seen a decline in him both physically and mentally because of the isolation (he's still in independent living, so my husband visits, but he can't leave his building and spends every day just sitting in his apartment). We were finally able to get the whole family together with him on Father's Day for an outdoor socially-distanced visit, and he loved it! We brought his favorite McDonald's meal (his favorite meal, period - ha ha), gifts, and got him telling old stories. In the days following our visit, he seemed more engaged and mentally "with it." So, we tried another outdoor visit that following week, just four days later, but he was confused the whole time and couldn't even remember old stories he's told thousands of times.
Since then, he's fallen off a cliff, cognitively. He hasn't had a single lucid moment in weeks now and just gets worse and worse. My husband is running over there (about 20 min from our house) at least twice a day because he's completely forgotten how to care for himself. Meanwhile, I spent my week first calling services that offer in-home care (much too expensive on top of his rent) and now, assisted living facilities. We were determined not to move him into assisted living during the pandemic because we won't be able to see him, but we no longer have a choice. We are working with his doctor to test for UTI and other possible causes of this sudden decline, but he was already going downhill, and this may just be his new normal.
The stress for my husband and I has been huge. I spent all day Thursday crying, after a very upsetting phone conversation with my FIL where he barely knew who I was. I just couldn't stop sobbing! It was all the accumulated stress boiling over. Then, I got back to my phone calls. We've both just been feeling completely wrung-out, and of course, that emotional stress resulted in a physical downturn for me, too--I was useless on Friday, and my husband had to get our weekly groceries in addition to his visits to his dad. Luckily, he had the day off work, at least. I am feeling so fragile that I have been avoiding the news and even mainstream social media (my connections in the chronic illness world feel like my only "safe places" right now!) because they just add to the stress and anxiety.
All of this is a long way of telling you that I've been thinking about how we handle stress and was going to write about it today ... then realized I already wrote about this topic in my book! Here is a reprint of the chapter titled Roll with the Punches, which is all about what to do when a crisis hits. You might also be interested in a couple of my recent posts, each of which has lots of tips and ideas: Dealing with STRESS and Coping in a Crisis. I sincerely hope your life is crisis-free right now, but I think we could all use some help with stress!
(Note that this chapter was first published as an article on the ProHealth website on August 26, 2018; it was edited for my book, and this is the edited version.)