Caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia can become increasingly challenging because of social distancing, but there are ways to stay socially connected — whether your loved one is living with you or is in a long-term care community. Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. the CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, shares his suggestions on how caregivers can make the situation better.
Keep your loved one on a regular routine. “Wake [them] up at a certain time, have [their] meals at a certain time, but also stay socially active. There are ways to do this: participate in a virtual program whether it is music therapy, dance therapy, or art therapy.” The organization provides virtual programs seven days a week with 125 programs viewed by more than 300,000 people on its Facebook page.
Don’t stop communicating. “Social isolation and social distancing doesn’t mean you need to cut off contact. You can FaceTime them, make a phone call, or send an email.”
Take advantage of reminiscent therapy. “Go through old family albums. Talk about the stories relating to those pictures.”
Be interactive with your loved one. “Play their favorite music, sing a song, and if possible, dance. Read a book to someone you are caring for; put them in a place that is in the book — a happy place.”
Caregivers must take care of themselves. “Don’t overload on the news. Exercise, meditate and deal with what you can control. There are factors like the coronavirus outbreak that are out of our control, but how we react to it is important. Follow the CDC guidelines, eat properly and set a routine for yourself.”
Join a support group. “We offer support groups every Wednesday and Friday 3:30-4pm EST along with an events calendar.” One of their support groups helps families learn how to cope with not being able to see a loved one who resides in a long-term care community.
P.S. Learn more about what to do for a loved one you suspect may have dementia.
BY TIFFANY WHITE