Quick Tips for Dementia Care Through Lockdown
By Dr Emer MacSweeney
Living in “lockdown” is an extremely difficult time for when caring for a loved one with a dementia diagnosis. Normal activities such as meeting friends and family, attending support groups or going to the shops are not possible and this, together with an endless news loops reminding us how many people have died each day, can create huge confusion, anxiety and distress for individuals with cognitive impairment. The increased handwashing and hygiene measures plus the social distancing can also be very disconcerting and confusing.
We all love and work very well within a routine, so it’s important to stick to this as much as possible throughout the lockdown period. This is particularly important for people living with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Adapting the normal schedule for the here and now is a great way to continue routine and a provide a sense of normality. For example, if Wednesday is a day where you normally meet with friends, perhaps arrange a virtual appointment through Facetime or Skype – we are so fortunate to have lots of technology available to us and keeping routines and staying in touch with people could not be easier!
Activities in the home:
It’s important to keep exercising within the home as well as taking advantage of the one hour a day exercise allowance for a walk outside, which also has restorative and health benefits of the vitamin D from the sunshine. In conjunction with healthy lifestyle habits such as diet, sleep and managing stress, exercise can help boost the immune system. Dancing is an ideal way to keep active. It’s fun, provides cardiovascular fitness and also provides a workout for the brain, as you remember new moves and routines. There are lots of free online fitness classes suitable for all ages from children to seniors from Personal Trainers. Joe Wicks AKA The Body Coach has been adopted as the nation’s PE coach throughout the COVID-19 Crisis and he has a wide range of free workouts on YouTube that are fun and easy to follow.
Keeping the mind active:
Puzzles, crosswords, quizzes and memory games are a great way to keep the memory active – there are so many free resources available online to keep the mind and memory active and engaged. Also, it’s a great time to start learning a new language or brushing up on second language skills.
The Power of Music:
Music has very powerful benefits for individuals living with dementia, it has the ability to raise the mood, calm behaviour, evoke happy memories and provide entertainment and enjoyment for everybody. There are many concerts that can be watched online spanning all musical genres which can provide an immersive experience and there are also playlists that can be downloaded from bygone eras which are great for reminiscing. Simply listening (and singing along) to the radio or your personal music collection is wonderful way to spend the time.
When caring for somebody living with dementia, it is vital that you remain strong and healthy so you can deliver the best care, whilst also ensuring they have a high functioning immune system to protect them against any debilitating illness. For nutrition tips on keeping the immune system strong and heathy visit: https://recognitionhealth.com/the-importance-of-strong-immunity/
Give yourself a break:
It’s important to remember that this is a very challenging time we are living through and we are all in it together. Don’t be hard on yourself when things get difficult, it’s normal for moods to get low and tempers to rise. Often some deep breathing, meditation or even a burst of exercise can be the perfect remedy to overcome troublesome times. Remember lockdown will end and brighter times are ahead.