Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenge, but the past four months have presented even more challenges.   Connie Skidmore, of Miles for Memories, joined Tim Collins on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show to share some things that may help.

Connie says our loved ones may not understand the need to stay home or the need to wear a mask. They might be used to going to a Day Care Center which is no longer available for them. Change is difficult, but hopefully, with patience and understanding, the caregiver and the patient can work together to come up with some coping skills that can maybe make things a little less stressful for everyone.

  • Don’t talk too much about the future - focus on what needs to be done today. Don’t worry your loved one about tomorrow or next week until it gets here.
  • Develop a daily routine – It’s good to have a schedule for everyday things like taking medications, showers, and even mealtime.
  • A dry erase board might be a good idea to post the day’s activities and timelines. You can refer to the board each morning and discuss the events for the day, but keep it to just that day. By not looking too far ahead, you can create a better opportunity for success and help eliminate frustrations.

Skidmore says it’s important for a caregiver to recognize the triggers that cause stress.  In many cases, this would be crowds or excess noise or excitement. During this extended period of social distancing, spending more time at home, probably indoors with less company, may mean less stress for your loved one but it might also mean more boredom.

Boredom generally leads to more television so to avoid going back to the excess noise and excitement, think about staying tuned to the Animal Planet or Disney or Hallmark channels and forgo the thrillers or westerns.

Other ways to fight boredom? Try to get in a little exercise each day.  Perhaps a short walk around the yard or the block. Or maybe a little light gardening or bake a batch of cookies or try reading together or spend some time organizing the photo albums.

This time of “the new normal” is taking a toll on everyone, so remember, it’s OK to ask for help and it’s OK to change any established routine if it’s no longer working. Family, friends, pets, and your inner strength are all sources of help to get through this difficult time.

Miles for Memories is creating solutions for those impacted by dementia in Calhoun County through movement, programming, and research.

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