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Alzheimer’s Care: Strategies to Ease Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

enior wears a mask to protect against viruses and bacteria

Alzheimer’s care during a pandemic is easier with these tips.

Confusion. Isolation. Loneliness. These feelings are becoming common for a number of us during the COVID-19 pandemic, but once you factor in dementia, the challenges and frustrations are elevated to an entirely new level.

Consider, as an example, the short-term loss of memory inherent in Alzheimer’s disease. A caregiver searching for the best way to explain why the senior cannot head out for coffee, get a haircut, or visit with the neighbors might need to offer up that explanation numerous times – often in the same day.

Sue Spalding, Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota, North Dakota Chapter, stresses the need for helping those with dementia to minimize unnecessary stress, which could increase the progression of the disease. So how do you best help the seniors in your care with Alzheimer’s to calmly navigate life during a pandemic? Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Stay calm. Although you may feel anxious and overwhelmed because of the state of the world, it is better to try to avoid talking about alarming issues and even watching the news with a senior with dementia. Be sure to find an appropriate outlet for your feelings, however – your partner or other loved ones, a therapist, or trusted friend.
  • Stick with routines. Keep in mind, certain previously enjoyed routines that entail outings or visits with family members may need to be placed on hold, but keep a predictable schedule in the senior’s home that’s reassuring to the him or her, such as maintaining a certain time for meals, exercise, hobbies, and bedtime.
  • Ensure there’s a backup plan. Family caregivers need to understand that if they were to become ill, a plan needs to be in place for backup caregiving. Strategizing now, prior to when the need arises, is important, and they can partner with an experienced home care agency, like Hillendale Home Care.

And remember, it is very important for you to take care of yourself, too! Be sure to designate time every day for relaxing, enjoyable activities to help you to unwind and destress after work, to stay connected with friends, to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine, and also to get a healthy amount of sleep.

As we all continue to wait for a vaccine or effective treatment option for COVID-19, Hillendale Home Care caregivers are fully equipped and prepared to safely care for seniors, including those with dementia, following all recommended protective guidelines. For further tips to help someone with Alzheimer’s during these tumultuous times, contact the top-rated providers of home care in Walnut Creek and the surrounding area at Hillendale Home Care, and learn more about how to join our professional care team through our CNA and HHA school.

Tips for Caring for Someone with Dementia to Prevent Senior Illnesses Like COVID-19

These tips can help prevent senior illnesses like COVID-19.

Providing caregiving assistance for a senior with Alzheimer’s can be challenging under the best of circumstances; mix in a worldwide pandemic, one that calls for social distancing, masks and gloves, and meticulous sterilization of both ourselves and our environment, and the challenge might appear impossible.

The following guidelines can help reduce anxiety and frustration for those diagnosed with dementia, while keeping them safe from contagious senior illnesses like COVID-19.

  • Make self-care a top priority. Now more than ever, it is imperative that you evaluate your own level of stress, and take steps to ensure you’re healthy – both emotionally and physically. You can only offer the best caregiving help for a senior if your own needs are met. This might mean limiting time spent monitoring the news as well as on social media, maintaining connections with friends and family, and taking time for comforting, enjoyable activities.
  • Take care of personal hygiene. Proper handwashing techniques are critical for all of us, but could be tricky for individuals with Alzheimer’s to keep up. Depending on the person’s stage of the disease, it might help to wash your hands together, demonstrating for the senior; or, place signs beside the sink in the bathroom and kitchen with a reminder to wash for 20 seconds. And keep in mind that repetition, a typical behavior in Alzheimer’s, could work to your advantage in this instance.
  • Consider your words very carefully. When speaking with a senior with dementia about changes related to COVID-19, it is critical to keep it very simple, utilizing a calm and reassuring tone. Beth Kallmyer, Vice President of Care and Support at the Alzheimer’s Association, suggests statements such as, “We have to stay inside because that’s most safe for us, but we’ll do it together. I’ll be with you and we’ll be okay.”
  • Make certain family caregivers have a backup plan. Let family caregivers know that in the event that they are diagnosed with COVID-19, or another medical problem that could prevent them from safely providing help for a loved one with dementia,  Hillendale Home Care is the perfect choice, with expertise in specialized Alzheimer’s care.

For more information on preventing senior illnesses like COVID-19 while ensuring your own health as a professional caregiver, contact the experts in eldercare in Walnut Creek, CA and the surrounding area at Hillendale Home Care. We also invite you to learn more about home care through our CNA and HHA school.