A Message from Andrea Korsunsky, Director of Seniors At Home’s Center for Dementia Care
As we are all sheltering in place and feeling a disruption in our usual routine, it is important to adapt our approach as we connect with people who have dementia.
When interacting with our loved ones with dementia, the goal at all times is to support and maintain feelings of safety, security, and to find opportunities to instill joy.
Dementia can cause people to feel unsafe or insecure, and to have difficulty finding ways on their own to feel happiness. This means it’s up to their loved ones to support them in these areas. This is even more difficult during a time when we ourselves might feel worried or unsure about what the future holds.
Here are 5 quick tips for coping during a sheltering in place.
Avoid turning on the news during times of day that are particularly difficult for your loved one.
For example, if your loved one experiences Sundowning Syndrome, engage in an activity in the early afternoon and avoid overstimulation and the news, which can cause sudden changes in mood or behavior.
Find other ways to stay informed other than the TV or radio.
Sign up for text alerts directly from your city or save the website for your local Department of Public Health so you can check status at specific times throughout the day without turning on the news where your loved one can hear.
Respond with reassuring words/phrases and maintain that there is a plan to keep everyone safe.
If your loved one is aware of the situation and is asking questions, reassure them that everything will be back to normal soon. Only talk about the news if your loved one asks and avoid introducing the topic if you know that it will cause feelings of worry or fear.
Get support for yourself.
Find an outlet for you to express your concerns, away from your loved one with dementia. It can help to talk to another family member or friend on the phone to stay connected and share concerns. Stay in contact with your counselor or therapist via phone if you have one.
Set aside dedicated time for meaningful interaction with your loved one.
Use this time of sheltering in place to find new ways to connect with your loved one. Ideas include: writing letters to loved ones, looking at photos, sorting the junk drawer, reading a favorite book aloud (short stories or poems are a good option). Be sure your approach in communication instills feelings of stability and safety.
It is important to maintain stability for your loved one while sheltering in place changes many aspects of our lives. This will help both the person with dementia and you to cope during this uncertain time.
Seniors At Home is here to help. Call to schedule a consultation, which can happen via videoconferencing while we are sheltering in place. To learn more about how Seniors At Home can support you an older adult in your life, call 415.449.3700 or contact us online.
Seniors At Home Center for Dementia Care specializes in in-home support for people experiencing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, as well as practical and emotional assistance for families.