Dementia Care NJ
Dementia Care In a Time of Social Distancing
The global pandemic has upended life in countless ways and the social distancing measures put in place to curb its spread, though necessary, have had dramatic effects on our social lives, interactions, and well-being. Groups like the elderly and those suffering from diseases of cognitive decline like Dementia, who tend to already have sparse and fragile social networks, have seen the resources and outlets they rely on for their livelihood disappear before their eyes.
It’s estimated that approximately 5,000 adult daycare centers across the country have closed during this unprecedented time, leaving over a quarter of a million seniors without access to the resources they depend on. In addition, in order to practice safe social distancing and maintain quarantine, many home-health aides have been let go. Increasingly, family caregivers are attempting to fill the void and provide the companionship and stimulation their loved ones need. It is a heavy burden, however, and if you are struggling with this task and the onset of increasingly agitated behaviors from a senior in your care as they deal with this new reality, know that you are not alone.
This is an exceptionally difficult issue, given that even before the coronavirus outbreak many people did not have the supportive infrastructure offered by a memory center or adult care center and the network of professionals who serve these centers. That is precisely why, now more than ever, we are trying to get the word out about Regency Memory Care center and the life-changing services and award-winning care we provide.
As we work with local officials to return to a more normal state of operation, we are doing all we can to provide information and assistance to those in our community struggling with this tragic situation. Below are some tips on how to assist in the home caring for a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In addition to the social distancing measures you’ve been practicing, here are some things to consider that might ease your effort:
The tone of a voice and body language are easily perceived by Dementia patients and often mirrored. Set a positive example and foundation.
Expect changes, but be aware of anything severe
Stress and change can alter a patient’s cognition, this is normal. But be aware of anything sudden or drastic as it could be a sign of pain or infection.
Limit TV News
News programs and their tone can be very alarming and can cause unnecessary stress for your loved ones. When watching TV opt for something light and upbeat.
Simplify the message
Give a summary of the current news, focusing on positives and moving toward favorite subjects when possible. Provide reassurance.
Set a routine
This is so important! A daily schedule is a great way to keep your relatives busy, engaged, and in better spirits. It can also provide you with a bit of much-needed free time!
Focus on meaningful engagement
By focusing on pleasant and stimulating activities and conversation, you can improve the mood and decrease problematic behavior of your loved one during this difficult time of isolation. Such an approach will help foster connections and engage senses and memories. Giving someone a purpose is a powerful tool!
Have a plan and a backup plan
Be in contact with a primary care provider if necessary, and be prepared should an individual in your care experience any symptoms of illness or exhibit any worrisome behavior. You may be able to provide treatment from home in some situations where you’d normally visit a doctor’s office. Consult your physician or source of care for professional guidance.
Do not let hiccups in the process derail or discourage you. In this unusual time, there are new delays in regular processes, and it’s best to be prepared for them, mentally and practically.
Anxiety Busting Tips
- Take 10 slow breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth
- Do some progressive muscle relaxation, tensing and then relaxing one body part as a time, keeping a steady breath
- Practice meditation, or just sit and listen to relaxing music. Or try a hot bath with candles or soothing aromas.
- Take a walk around the block
- Call a family member (a funny one, maybe!) for a quick chat
General Useful Tips
- Focus on the process, rather than results. Engagement is more important than meaningful completion!
- Break activities into small, manageable chunks. Activities that can be done in short bursts are easier for people with Dementia, Alzheimer’s or similar illnesses.
- Focus on roles, perhaps something related to their former line of work. People want to feel useful!
- Suggest physical activities when possible. Some ideas include planting seeds together, dancing, a walk around the neighborhood, or a chair yoga routine.
- The approach suggested activities with a few ideas in mind, in case the first ones are turned down. Do your best to remain patient.
- Be positive and confident in your approach—non-verbal cues can be very contagious. However, don’t force them to participate. If they are not into it, shelve it for another try next week.
- Don’t be afraid to change your approach! Often it can be better to not ask about an activity but say, “Now it is time to bake,” or whatever the activity may be. Or, create a clean, distraction-free environment and just start in on the activity yourself. This may encourage voluntary participation.
Additional activity ideas
- Listening to music together
- Praying together
- Cooking and setting for a meal
- Video chatting with family or friends.
- Folding laundry
- Watching a TV program
- Doing a puzzle
- Playing brain games (There are great resources online!)
- Looking through photo albums
- Reading the newspaper or doing a crossword
- Starting a journal
- Arts and crafts
For more information, please visit: https://www.alznj.org/