In the best of times, caring for our loved ones with dementia can be stressful. Under the cloud of COVID-19, we can be pushed to our limits. In addition to the round the clock supervision and direction, we have the concerns about sanitation. Loved ones with dementia are typically messy in the bathroom and at the table. They can’t remember to wash their hands appropriately, to keep their hands away from their face, and not touch everything and everyone around them. Reminding them now in the midst of this virus, isn’t any easier.
Caregiver self-care is now more important than ever. Play classical or relaxing music, step out of the room or outside for a bit of fresh air, remain social by calling, texting, and video chatting with friends, eat nutritious foods, and get plenty of rest.
And keep in mind that our loved ones are sensitive to our emotions. If we are stressed, they will pick up on this and their agitation will increase. Routine and predictability are comforting. Redirection is the magic of distracting them when they’re fixed on something. Balance between stimulation and rest helps to maintain stability.
For those with loved ones in facilities, there is the additional concern of not being able to physically see and be with them since care homes are now closed to visitors. Most challenging is the separation anxiety for families admitting loved ones at this time as they cannot personally settle them into their rooms.
Know that the staff at most facilities are dedicated and care deeply about our loved ones. They are doing their best to monitor our loved ones’ health with daily assessments, keep them clean and occupied with scheduled activities, and provide tasty meals and snacks. Until life returns to “normal,” periodic phone calls and video chats can help relieve some of the anxiety and sorrow of separation.
Photo: Joe and Marshall at Arden Courts of Geneva, January 29, 2019