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Tips For Dementia Caregivers in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Taking care of a person with Alzheimer's or other dementia is already a challenge during normal times. And now that the whole world is facing a pandemic, you may have to deal with the situation more than you ever

Karen Cruz
Karen Cruz

Taking care of a person with Alzheimer's or other dementia is already a challenge during normal times. And now that the whole world is facing a pandemic, you may have to deal with the situation more than you ever thought possible. It is not surprising if you feel anxious, confused, and unnerved during this time. That is totally normal. Family caregivers may be overworked and stress by the global health crisis. If you are caring for a family member or a person with dementia during the pandemic, there are some ways to minimize stress while caring for your family, yourself, and other people.

But first, let us make it clear that dementia itself does not increase COVID-19 risk, but dementia-related behaviors may do. It is possible that people with dementia may forget important safety measures such as washing their hands properly and other precautions advised by the CDC to protect against the novel coronavirus.

Here are some tips that can reduce your stress and help you survive these challenging times.

Should you explain about the virus or not?

Understanding the ways COVID-19 has remade our lives is hard for anyone, and it is even more difficult for those with memory loss. It is helpful to talk about COVID-19 to a person who is in the early stages of dementia. They might be hearing the news somewhere so it is best if you explain it as simply as you can. If you see that they feel anxious about it, reassure them and tell them that it will be okay. Now, if the person's dementia is more advanced, think what can they understand and how will they respond. If they still do not understand what is happening, you can simply show them the proper way of washing hands and other safety precautions.

Maintain a calm surrounding.

The most vital thing you should do when caring for a person with dementia is to remain calm. Yes, the pandemic can be alarming sometimes especially with what we see in the news, but stay calm as much as possible and do not raise the alarm about COVID-19 to the person you care for. Try not to watch the news when they are are in the room and limit what you tell them about the virus.

Follow the normal routine.

Following the normal routine such as bedtime, regular meal, and activities even during the pandemic can help a person with dementia avoid anxiety and stress. You can also gradually introduce the habit of properly washing the hands.

Plan ahead for possible illness.

Most of us know that nursing homes and other care facilities have been hotspots of COVID-19 outbreaks, and people with dementia may be at a higher risk for severe coronavirus. Planning ahead is recommended so you won't scramble in case of illness. Make sure to pack a travel bag for you and for the person you are taking care of. Put essential things for a hospital stay. And do not forget to list down names and numbers of doctors or the social worker who can help coordinate with doctors.

Self-care is crucial.

Caregivers love taking care of others but you need to keep in mind that you need to have a healthy body and mind too. Caring for someone with dementia can sometimes be a lonely job no matter how much you love what you are doing. And that can cause stress which can trigger changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Be sure to take breaks from watching news stories about the pandemic to avoid being upset and take care of your body by stretching, exercising, and meditating. Always eat healthy and well-balanced meals, get plenty of sleep, and make time to unwind. Whenever you feel lonely, do yourself a favor and connect with others through videocall.

We know and we totally understand that caregivers get tired and frustrated too. Do not ever feel guilty if you think you need to take a break. You are a hero, but sometimes heroes need to pause too. Keep in mind that you can reach out for help or if you need someone to tak to. We are all in this together.

Find more helpful advice on how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic by checking out Cleaning Corona.