• Julie Katz

How to get someone with dementia through a pandemic

And you too

These are confusing, anxious times for all of us but for those with dementia these times can be terrifying. Here are some tips to get everyone through.

If your loved one is in a facility:

They may not understand why you cannot visit them. Don't even try to explain that their home is closed to outsiders and you are forbidden from entering due to a pandemic. Reassure them that you will come as soon as you are able then try to redirect the conversation to something more pleasant.

Most facilities are helping their residents use technology and bringing them tablets to connect with relatives with an on-line video chat. Make sure you take advantage of this. Let them see everyone in your home so they are comforted and know everyone is okay.

When you do chat, recall family vacations, weddings and funny anecdotes from the past that will bring up pleasant memories. These stories are reassuring and comforting for both of you.

If your loved one lives with you:

Try to keep a routine of getting up and doing as many things as possible within the confines of your home. Try to get out and walk or sit outside of your house for fresh air. Friends can visit if they stay on the sidewalk.

Remind your relative to wash their hands often and for 20 seconds, using notes on the bathroom mirror and by singing happy birthday twice.

Keep you, and them, away from too much news. With 24 hour news channels one can get depressed and some may think the situation is dire based on the news. Reassure them that by staying at home you are taking some measure of control and contributing to the solution.

Do busy work. Depending on the cognitive ability of your relative you may organize pictures, fold laundry (even if it didn't just come from the dryer), sort beads or plastic silverware, wipe surfaces, etc.

If you are the primary caretaker make a plan if you get sick with coronovirus or any other illness that doesn't allow you to be the caretaker. Plan in advance so you don't need to have two crises at once.

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