We are all struggling with aspects of our lives at the moment, as the world changes around us and we adjust to a new way of being. If you are living with a loved one who has dementia, though, the challenges are far more complex. Here are some suggestions that can help both your loved one and you to feel safer and stay well.
- Try placing signs in every bathroom reminding people to wash their hands – symbols rather than words are good. People living with dementia may need constant reminders about hygiene. You could also demonstrate a good handwashing technique to your loved one. There’s a good NHS video on this subject here.
- Stay active. There’s no reason why you and your loved one can’t have a go at exercising with Joe Wicks, who is presenting a new half hour workout every morning at 9am – the regularity may well help lower anxiety and provide something to look forward to. Check it out here. It’s not only a good physical thing to do, it will help with mental wellness too.
- Your GP or local pharmacist can arrange to have your prescription medicine posted to you, to avoid anyone in the household having to go to a pharmacy. This is especially important if you are the only caregiver at home as it is crucial for you, as well as your loved one, to be shielded as much as possible from the virus.
- The same is true for food deliveries. Most supermarkets are prioritising vulnerable households for their deliveries – Sainsbury’s is only accepting online orders from people in this group. If you are unable to get a slot, most supermarkets offer regular (and easy-to-access) click and collect services, where the contact with other people is kept to an absolute minimum.
- Stay connected. Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, House Party and other apps are available and are crucial to helping people feel connected with family and friends in these difficult times. Just seeing a friendly face, even if it’s only for a few minutes, can help lift someone’s mood – this is true for you as well as your loved one.
- Keep a regular routine. This should be as close as possible to a normal routine for the person affected by dementia, but will obviously need adjustment if the old routine included daily walks, for example.
- Keep a list of crucial contacts, in case you or your loved one become ill. These should include your GP (and list your regular medications), social worker if you have one, any outside care support, relatives and nearby friends.
- Keep a range of interesting at-home activities on hand. The BBC’s Music Memories is one of our favourites. Here you can find music from decades past that may jog your loved one’s memories, or provide a joyous moment or two. The theme tunes section is particularly fun!
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. We are living through unprecedented times and the anxiety people feel is real and upsetting. As long as you are doing your best to stay well and safe, it doesn’t matter if your loved one wants the same meal again and again, or if you can only find one or two things that interest them. This will all eventually pass, and we will be able to enjoy our freedom all the more when it does.