According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), community members 65 or older are at an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Because this is also the demographic that is living with Alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment, that means that this segment of the population has been disproportionately impacted. This is in addition to the increased challenges of government mandates that have eliminated visits in many states and counties. Our community of caregivers must be more vigilant than ever in supporting our loved ones and those in our care to ensure their physical and mental health.
Here are a few ideas.
Support good hygiene: Those suffering from memory issues may not remember to wash their hands, which could mean increased exposure and possible infection. If you are not directly caring for your loved one at this time and relying on a caregiver, discuss the possibility of displaying signs with reminders throughout their living space.
Put a communication plan in place: Not being able to communicate directly with a family member can increase anxiety surrounding this health crisis. Depending on the current protocol at your loved one’s place of residence, establish a communication plan with their care team so you can get updated at regular intervals and know who to contact in case of an emergency or urgent change in circumstances.
Be prepared for an emergency: With things changing on an hourly basis in the world, preparing for sudden and unplanned changes is a good idea. Make preparations with doctors and pharmacies to keep medications stocked. Communicate with medical professionals so that you know what to do if access to medical care becomes delayed, or if you need to make alternative arrangements for a loved one.
Keep a routine if you’re able to: It is likely that your normal routine has changed significantly, but you can set up new routines that give a sense of structure and normalcy. Set a scheduled phone call every day and display a daily schedule to give added peace of mind and comfort so your loved one knows what they should be doing and when they should be doing it.
Maintain a calm environment: Even those who don’t have the ability to comprehend the full extent of this situation likely still understand that things are off. Changed routines and increased anxieties in those around them can lead to new fears and worries within themselves. It’s more important than ever to lead with love and understanding, and to do what you can to protect them from added stress.
I know that many are feeling uncertain, and staying connected with our Dementia Awareness community on Facebook can be a great way to share ideas and support with others who are in similar situations. If I can support you or your family, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We are in this together.