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How Do I Care for a Dementia Patient in the Pandemic?

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Roughly 60% of dementia caregivers receive assistance from relatives, friends or service providers. However, actions like New York PAUSE and county shelter-in-place orders have kept those caregivers from visiting. Without relief, caregivers find themselves on duty around the clock with no one else to help.

NNY360’s recent article entitled “Dementia caregiving and COVID-19: Make a meaningful connection through activities” acknowledges that dementia caregiving is a full-time job without the pandemic. Now, the COVID-19 crisis has shown how caregiving is really a cooperative activity, with spouses, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends, children and grandchildren each taking a role.

Even though people are confined to their homes, it is critical not to get caught in a rut of watching television for hours on end or taking extended naps.

Keeping the mind active is important because anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation are common for those living with dementia and their caregivers. Social distancing increases that confinement and can exacerbate those conditions.

The Alzheimer’s Association suggests planning simple activities and establishing a daily routine, as those activities provide purpose and meaning, while providing a means to strengthen the bond between the person living with the disease and the caregiver.

These activities don’t have to be fancy. It can be a simple game of cards or a jigsaw puzzle, or something routine like setting the table or folding clothes. The important thing for caregivers to remember is to be patient and provide guidance. It’s a chance to do something together and take your mind off of what’s happening in the world.

The most important part of any activity is the sense of accomplishment. The person completing the task should feel that they were helpful. Contributing to the household can give them a sense of a job well done. Here are a few ideas:

  • Listen to your favorite music, because it has calming qualities and just having it on in the background can improve their mood.
  • Reminiscing activities can incorporate many things around the home. For example, page through an old photo album or watch home movies. If you haven’t started a family history, use the time to record stories and memories on your mobile device.
  • Make your favorite recipes. This is a great way to get someone with memory loss involved in the process. Use a recipe like making bread or cookies where you can roll up your sleeves, wash your hands and get to work kneading the dough.
  • Do tabletop activities like puzzles, LEGOS, or folding laundry.
  • Do crafts like coloring, painting, knitting, making jewelry, or nature printing with leaves or flowers from your home.

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Reference: NNY360 (May 3, 2020) “Dementia caregiving and COVID-19: Make a meaningful connection through activities”

Suggested Key Terms: Elder Law Attorney, Elder Care, Caregiving, Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease