Tips to Keep Dementia Caregivers Healthy Amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Individuals living with dementia are not medically predisposed to contracting the coronavirus (COVID), as typically lung function remains healthy upon those diagnosed with dementia. However, many symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss or impaired speech can leave these individuals with an increased risk of contracting the virus. For example, many individuals with effected memory may forget to wash their hands often, while those with effected speech may struggle to communicate with caretakers and loved ones. As a result of heightened social distancing practices, these individuals may become confused, scared, and lonely with a disrupted daily routine, introducing risky behavior.
The stress and strain of these unprecedented times in conjunction with caring for an individual with dementia are unfathomable. However, we hope to offer several tips below to aid in keeping all caregivers and those with dementia healthy and safe.

Caregivers At Home

  • Refer to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on proper protection from COVID-19.
  • If an increased heightened sense of confusion persists or other concerning symptoms develop, contact your health care provider via phone. It is advised to contact all medical support from home before going in directly, as to minimize unnecessary human interaction.
  • Place helpful signs above sinks to remind individuals to wash hands frequently. (Place hand sanitizer in frequently used locations to aid in further sanitary practices).
  • Clean and disinfect the most common surfaces daily to minimize the spread of germs.
  • Develop a contingency plan for if the primary caregiver should become sick themselves.

Assisted Living

  • Refer to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on prevention and control of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities/nursing homes.
  • Refrain from visiting your family member if you have any symptoms of illness.
  • If visitation becomes limited or restricted, inquire about the facilities technology practices. You may be able to continue communication via phone, email, or video calls. (If possible, request a specific time each day this communication will occur to develop consistency).
  • Be sure the facility has all updated contact information on file.

Home-Based Services

  • Ask any individual coming into your home to deliver services, to check their own temperature before entering. Be sure it is lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Inquire if the staff individual has come in contact with/given care services to any other individuals that have been diagnosed with COVID-19. If yes, request a different staff member to enter into your home to perform services.
  • Request the staff member wear a mask, wash their hands upon entry, and wear protective gloves during their time in the home.
  • ***Note: Allowing any individual into the home greatly increases risk of contracting COVID.

Take Care Of YOU

A common phrase in our society today, "you do you," is exactly the mindset we believe caregivers need to engage in at least once within their own daily routines during this national health crisis and time of social distancing. Whether it is your chosen profession or a loved one in need, reaching burn out, frustration, and overwhelming stress can be a common experience if time isn't taken to ensure the health and wellness of oneself. We hope this list of activities and calming practices can help aid you through these tough days of quarantine and intensive care of others.

  • Exercise - Go for a walk... look up an online work out... organize a zoom workout between friends. Beneficial exercise will help to release endorphins and built-up stress. It can also provide a sense of accomplishment during a time of limited solutions.
  • Laugh - There's no telling what a good burst of laugher can do to your mood and your perspective of circumstance. Look up a funny video, look through old photos from personal memories, and tune into your favorite comedy. Sometimes, all we need is humor to raise the mood.
  • Eat Healthy - Continue to add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet -  it is easy to fall into already prepared meals, fast foods, and even skipping meals. Breaking and taking the time to cook yourself a delicious meal, will not only make your stomach happy, but your mind and heart too!
  • Rock Out - Rolling Stones, Mozart, Prince? Whatever you fancy, take a moment to rock out with your favorite artist. Listening to music that inspires or soothes you can boost your mood almost instantly.
  • Get Competitive - Let's face it, we all enjoying winning... and some days it just feels like we're on the opposite side of that. Engage in one of your favorite games, puzzles, or quizzes. Getting competitive for a few minutes never hurt anyone.. plus you could boost your mood with the WIN!
  • Readers Unite - Grab that book you've started 3 times off the shelf, dive into a magazine that's been collecting dust, or jump online to catch up on one of your favorite subjects. Start a virtual book discussion and keep the connection going between friends.
  • New Hobby - Now is the time... Spend 2o minutes a day on learning a new activity or skill you've always wanted to learn. You don't have to become an Einstein at it, just be open to learning! Check out MasterClass or SkillShare to access incredible videos and teachings by those at the top of their trade.
  • Indulge - We are all different so remember to indulge every once in awhile in something that YOU enjoy 100%. To each is own!
  • Take a Break - This is where you learn to master the "Tag Team"... although in this case we are not referring to wrestling! We all need a break sometimes from our daily duties and even those we love unconditionally. Arrange for another family member, a friend, a volunteer, or a professional caregiver to step giving you a break every so often.

We Are Here To Help

While these unprecedented times continue to persist, the challenges for those with dementia and their caregivers will continue to heighten. While CTF continues to passionately focus our efforts on funding the discovery of breakthrough drugs and novel treatments to eliminate this horrific disease, we too have walked the challenging road of caregiving for an individual with dementia. If you need help or assistance during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out. We will do our best to offer support any way we can. You can also reference our resources page for additional information.

We are here. We have hope. We will get through this together.

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