OMAHA, Neb. (PRWEB) September 16, 2020
As September marks the sixth month of social distancing measures nationwide, the strain placed on the aging population continues to grow – leaving older adults with dementia more agitated and restless, and family caregivers at a loss for how to keep their loved ones safe and healthy.
While caring for an individual with memory loss requires a great deal of time and patience year-round, the coronavirus has placed a unique set of emotional and physical demands on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers, with nearly 82% reporting higher stress due to COVID-19 in a recent study by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s A-LIST.
“The pandemic has upended our normal way of life. For those supporting a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it’s no surprise that stress is at an all-time high,” said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead Senior Care. “However, no one should feel the need to travel this journey alone. There are many online communities and resources available to guide them.”
September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a good reminder to refresh your care approach and evaluate the areas where you may need assistance. Hogan suggests incorporating the following tips into your daily care routine to empower individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and establish a positive environment:
- Encourage healthy habits. Many people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have pre-existing medical conditions that put them at a higher risk for COVID-19. Remind them to stay healthy with the help of visual cues like regular handwashing or covering your mouth while coughing. For another nudge, hang signs near kitchen and bathroom sinks with simple instructions, such as “wash your hands.”
- Build structure into the day. A routine not only benefits the individual, it can also improve the productivity and emotional well-being of their caregiver. Basic patterns subconsciously guide our bodies through the day. Explore new activities that engage the senior’s mind and body – host an afternoon tea, organize items in your closet or take part in a daily exercise class via YouTube or other online channels. If you are social distancing from one another, set a regular time each day to connect through phone or video chat.
- Create a safe space. Those receiving care are often very in tune with their caregiver’s emotions. If you are anxious or upset, your family member will likely feel it, too. Keep your stress levels in check by taking the Caregiver StressMeter assessment. If you’re someone who likes to keep the television on throughout the day, make time for positive programming (such as documentaries and musicals) instead of daily news shows. Evaluate the best level of information to share about topics such as COVID-19 and consider creating a script that other members of the family can use when answering difficult questions.
- Brainstorm a backup plan. A recent study found that 73% of people caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease at home are unsure what would happen to their loved one if they as the caregiver contracted COVID-19. By creating a short- and long-term plan, you can help ensure the proper plan is in place and reduce the stress of decision-making under pressure. Assemble important documents and keep a record of key information, should you need to enlist an alternate carer.
- Seek out support. Supporting an individual with Alzheimer’s disease can evoke a variety of emotions and take a heavy toll on even the most resilient caregivers. Using resources or respite services doesn’t mean you have failed. In fact, asking for help can often be a gift to both yourself and your family member. You will be a better caregiver when you take moments to rest, eat healthy meals and lean on a support system.
Above all, remember you know your family member best. Release any pressure you’re placing on yourself to memorize an exact list of tips in order to be a good caregiver – use what you know and admire about your loved one to guide your care and connect with them in meaningful ways. Take each day as it comes, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if stress starts to wear down your physical or mental health.
With the right resources and support, you can set yourself up for success and provide the right level of care. To learn more, visit http://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com.
ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE
Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 80 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 13 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 90,000 CAREGivers℠ worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources.