Lifestyle and routines changed massively during the outbreak of Covid-19. Lockdowns and social distancing became a huge part of helping combat the outbreak and this adjustment has been difficult for most, especially those living with Alzheimer’s.
Professor Linda Clare, of the University of Exeter Medical School helped research this issue and developed five simple steps, designed to help make things more manageable for your loved ones living with dementia and for carers who help support.
The guidance is built around practical and self-help tips with five key points:
• Staying connected –
Guidelines limit how we can stay connected, face-to-face contact has been limited or deemed unsafe. However, we can stay connected with loved ones through various ways.
Setting up a phone with relevant numbers is a good way to keep you connected with your loved one. The use of speed dials for important contacts can help eliminate any stresses of trying to remember names. Video calls are a great way to engage in face-to-face contact and to help ensure your loved one is looking well and coping. Calling at regular intervals or on certain days can help implement a routine.
Photo albums with relevant stories and backgrounds explaining the memories can also help make your loved one stay connected. This is a great way to help keep their memory active and help them to reminisce fond memories.
• Staying safe and well –
Guidelines have restricted the amount of contact we have with loved ones and this can be a concern for family members.
With memory being the fundamental challenge with Alzheimer patients, flash cards and reminders placed in the house can help keep them safe and well. These could be as simple as a reminder to wash hands more regularly, remain two metres from people outside or the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and when to seek medical help. It is important to note that they may struggle retaining information about Covid-19 and the placement of these could help them remember why things aren’t the way they remember right now.
• Staying active –
Staying active is important for physical and mental health. A short brisk walk can help massively keep your loved one active. As always it is important to follow guidelines, remaining two metres apart is essential but doesn’t need to be a barrier to exercise. This is also a great way to keep an eye on your loved one and to analyse how they are coping. You could also encourage them to take up new activities like word searches, knitting, gardening, all of which will help keep them physically and mentally active.
• Keep a sense of purpose –
Calendars and notebooks are a good way for your loved one to keep track of things to do or that have been planned. Making note of times and days that loved ones are calling is a good way to keep them focused and give them something to look forward to. This is also a good way to remind them of their favourite programmes that are scheduled on the TV or of any relevant food deliveries/parcels that are due and when.
• Remaining positive –
Being a carer is difficult at the best of times but now more than ever it is important to remain positive for your loved one. Remaining positive and focused will help not only yourself but also your loved one during this difficult period. If you are struggling with care or feel your loved one is struggling, it is important to seek help. You can seek advice from Carers UK, or you can contact your local Council’s adult social team. Remember, there is no shame in asking for help.