COVID-19 is difficult for many of us. We are facing an unprecedented time and questions abound. How do we handle our work, our families, our health? If you are a caregiver, you may also be wondering how to best help those you care for. So, Medical XPress put together a brief guide on how to care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia during COVID-19.
As a caregiver, you most likely know what Alzheimer’s disease is. But for anybody reading this who is unsure, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that impacts brain cells. As the disease progresses, brain cells degenerate and die. Symptoms include memory loss, problems with critical thinking or making judgment, issues completing tasks, and changes in personality. Additionally, patients with Alzheimer’s are more at risk of pneumonia, infections, malnutrition, and bedsores. Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease.
So if you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, how can you provide them with the highest quality of life while also ensuring that they follow the needed health and safety precautions?
According to Dr. Joseph Sirven, your approach should depend on the person you’re caring for. For example, he notes that it may be better not to talk about COVID-19 with people at late stages of the disease who currently have difficulty processing information. However, if the person is still somewhat lucid, Dr. Sirven explains that you can still talk to them about COVID-19.
Additionally, explaining the importance of hand-washing and other social distancing measures can help patients to better acclimate.
Next, caretakers should be prepared for some personality or behavioral difficulties during this time. This is because the culture of social distancing may make people feel isolated, afraid, or nervous. Patients should have their feelings acknowledged. After all, it is an unsettling time for most people. Being able to address their concerns calmly will help with the adjustment.
At the same time, doctors note that additional care plans should be put into place. Because patients with neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease sometimes struggle with emotional regulation, they may act out or become confused with the recent amount of social changes. Being able to have a plan in place to mitigate any tense situations is necessary.
Although caregivers are doing a wonderful thing at this time, it is important to remember that their mental health matters too. It is understandable that you may also feel frightened, anxious, or overwhelmed with everything that is going on.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to a doctor or therapist who may be able to assist you with managing your feelings.
Additionally, take time to yourself to manage your stress. Think about what makes you feel more relaxed and centered. Is it watching a new episode of your favorite Netflix show? Is it cooking a new meal, going for a long walk around the neighborhood, or doing some yoga? Whatever makes you feel more at ease, make sure to work that into your schedule.