Caring for a loved one who has dementia is hard enough at the best of times. There are so many factors to consider on a practical level, aside from the emotional impact it has.
Now, in the age of Coronavirus, we’re living in a state of emergency, a pandemic no one saw coming. And with that worldwide pandemic, has come isolation requirements, lockdown laws, and so much fear and anxiety, it can be hard to articulate at times.
For someone living with dementia, their whole world has been turned upside down. Routine, consistency, frequent interaction, trips outside the house and smiles and laughter from those that they love is key to keeping a daily balance.
For those who care for someone with dementia, it’s complicated and in some cases, near impossible to leave their loved one alone. Someone with dementia may not be able to do everyday tasks such as get changed, make a cup of tea or even use the toilet without assistance.
You may already be living with your loved one, or have temporarily moved them in during this coronavirus lockdown.
Here’s how you can keep supporting someone at home with dementia during this challenging time.
Dependant on how advanced the person’s dementia is, many people will be prescribed some kind of medication which aims to slow down the disease. It’s imperative to ensure you have enough supplies, so there are no repercussions due to missed doses.
If you’re not able to leave the house, arrange with your GP surgery or pharmacy to have the medication delivered to you. If someone from the household can leave the house, you can pick up the medicines while following social distancing rules.
Although dementia is a disease of the mind, it can have effects on physicality. Plus, studies have shown that regular exercise can have a positive impact on the brain and may help your loved one stay independent for longer.
The level of activity will depend on your living arrangement, space and the set up of the accommodation. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden you could do some simple aerobics, focusing on stretching the limbs while building up a moderate sweat. You can have fun with this and keep it light-hearted, even incorporating elements of dance.
If you’re not able to go outside, you can buy indoor activity games from Amazon, such as plastic skittles. This can be a fun and competitive way of getting the body moving and something the whole family can get involved in.
It may be that your loved one isn’t able to stand or move around, but there are plenty of ideas for seated activities.
Look after your own mental health.
You’re not able to keep up with the demands of living with someone under lockdown with dementia if you’re not looking after yourself first and foremost.
Make sure you take some time for yourself every day, to stop and breathe. This is an extraordinarily alien and confusing time, and we’ve had to adapt quickly and make sacrifices to keep our loved ones safe and happy. This can start to take its toll if you’re not keeping on top of your own mental health.
Don’t be tempted to continually refresh the news or get too invested in social media opinions and speculation surrounding coronavirus. This can lead to further anxiety and a feeling of dread. It’s good to be informed, but make sure you’re getting your information from credible sources and limit your intake to once a day.
Isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and emptiness, especially if you’re used to the coming and going of family members or friends. Or perhaps you and your loved one have a busy social calendar usually, and the lack of socialising is bringing on feelings of sadness.
Although there’s nothing like giving your family a hug or being able to look someone in the eye, technology can be an incredibly useful tool during this time.
Utilising the video call options on Whatsapp or Facebook can make you feel closer to your family and friends. You can catch up on the latest news, reminisce about old memories or take part in family quizzes.
But social media and smartphone apps aren’t for everyone. Use whichever method suits with you best. This might be sending letters in the post or using websites such as Moonpig to send a personalised greeting card. Maybe you can schedule in daily phone calls with your family, as a simple phone call, one on one, might be less overwhelming. A group video call where your loved one might not be able to keep up with what’s going on could prove difficult.
If your loved one is at the beginning stages of dementia and is still able to retain information and instruction, it may be worth getting a careline alarm. That way, you’ll have peace of mind if you need to go and do the essential food shop that they have a way of getting help if they have a fall or feel unwell.
Careline24 offer the most affordable careline alarm, complete with the gold standard in monitoring centres, ready to take emergency calls all day, every day, even in a pandemic.