Tips for caring for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients at home
Your schedule has been disrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. For some, that can mean suddenly being the caregivers for loved ones who have a memory disorder or other neurological issues.
If you find yourself caring for a loved one at home, here are some tips that can keep things running smoothly.
- Routine is key.
Make sure you try to do the same things in the same order. You’ll minimize confusion for the patient, and it will help them feel more at ease.
“Try to get a schedule that feels as close to normal as possible,” said Courtney Ware, APRN, nurse practitioner with Norton Neuroscience Institute.
- Limit news media consumption.
That includes television, radio and internet versions of the news. People with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease tend to perseverate, or obsessively think about issues that upset them, according to Courtney. But that goes for caretakers as well. Your attitude, tone, mood and responses can clearly transmit your feelings, even though you aren’t speaking directly about something.
- Try to get moving.
Getting outside for a walk or doing a fun activity can help everyone feel a little better, according to Christopher Hurley, certified social worker with Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center. Even walking around your own house can help.
- Ask for help sooner rather than later.
Caregivers might notice their loved ones having more “bad” days than good right now. Or they may wonder if a certain behavior is “normal” or “OK.”
Courtney and Christopher both stressed that most people wait “too long” to ask for help by calling the patient’s doctor.
“Sometimes you just need to hear that you’re doing the right thing,” Courtney said.
Christopher recommends caregivers check out ALZ.org, the Alzheimer’s Association website. It’s full of resources and information for caregivers.
Learn more about managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.