While researchers are working hard to learn more about the coronavirus, including risk factors and treatments, many are left wondering what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones. Just because in-person visits are off-limits, that doesn’t mean you can’t support the health of your loved ones.

Mental health is more important than ever to combat the devastating effects that isolation can have on someone living with memory impairment.

Encourage your loved ones to keep their mind healthy with these tips.

Get creative with activity: Staying active can still be achievable, even indoors. The important thing is to increase blood flow throughout the body and to the brain. Take a socially distanced walk with your loved one or, if they are currently living in a facility, talk to their caregivers to ensure they are getting enough physical movement.

Exercise the brain: Mental activity is just as important as physical activity when it comes to maintaining brain health. Activities such as brain teasers, reading or participating in arts and crafts keep the mind engaged.

Nutritional health: Nutrition fuels the mind as much as it does the body. Ensure that your loved one is making good decisions about the food and drinks they consume and develop an eating routine that they can easily continue whether you’re around them often or not.

Maintain reliable routines: Creating an environment that feels safe and stable despite the uncertainty of the world is so important. While it’s possible those diagnosed with dementia may not fully understand the state of the world right now, they can detect disruptions to their routine and sense that things aren’t as they should be.

Communicate with caregivers: One of the best ways to gauge how someone’s mental health is doing is to observe changes in their behavior. If you notice signs that your loved one is in more distress than normal, withdrawn or showing other new or exacerbated symptoms, talk with their care team or your family members to make changes in the care they are receiving.

Many factors are out of our control right now, but taking a loving approach to care is not. As caregivers, we have the privilege of guiding the memory impaired through the stress and change of current events. This is best done with an open heart and compassion for their experience.

Get up to date information and studies about COVID-19 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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