Caregiving during the COVID-19 virus restrictions can add additional stress and isolation to your already burdened lifestyle. Now more than ever, it is important for the caregiver to maintain your “lifelines” of socialization with friends and family. Take this moment in time to learn new ways of keeping in touch to keep yourself rooted in your community!
Ideas For Well-Being During This Difficult Time:
- Keep connected with friends and family by texting, e-mail, Facebook, FaceTime, or Skype. Texting and e-mail are OK, but Facebook is better because you have stimulating pictures to go along with the words. FaceTime and Skype are better still because they are in real time and you can see the person you are connecting with. The visual helps to raise your positive emotional level because it is immediate versus text or e-mail, where you have to wait for a response.
- For group connections there are APPs you can download to accomplish a group meeting. Some are Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, BlueJeans, and Zoom. There are also others you might be familiar with that companies use for business meetings. Here you can use your phone or your computer to call a certain number. Then you put in your meeting code and you are connected to the group. By cell phone you can hear everyone, but if you use an iPad or a computer, you can see others who are on computer (using the camera) or placeholders for those who are calling by phone. There are good directions on the web for using these communication tools to keep yourself connected.
- Keep to your routine as much as possible because those with dementia feel safer if each day is like the next.
- Substitute solitary walks in place of ones where you might meet other people so that you can maintain 6 feet of distance from others. If you are likely to come in contact with others, it has been suggested that you wear a mask while outside. The mask can be something you purchased online, or a scarf you wear over your nose and mouth. If someone in your group of family or friends is a sewer, ask them to make 2 for each of you (one worn and one in the wash for washable cotton masks). Masks are to protect others from you in case you are asymptomatic and releasing virus particles in the moisture of your breath. Therefore the more people who wear them, the more protected we will all be.
- Make sure you have enough food for a week and a half to two weeks. If you can, have a relative or friend shop for you. Now that our movements are restricted, if you don’t already, begin making a menu list so you have the right food for your menu. ( I know I stopped doing that long ago, but started again because it is easier to see what I needed.) If you don’t have someone to shop for you, consider using a shop-and-deliver option that many stores have in all areas of the country. Ours in the Rochester NY area is instacart.com. These companies pay their own people to fulfill your order and deliver it to your front porch. You sign up online and choose your items on the computer or phone, choose the store, put in your name, address, and credit card information, and it is all billed to you so there is no transaction needed on the back end! They used to be fulfilled on the same day, but with the entire country being shut down, there may be a few days delay to receive your order.
- The Card Alert may be used between two people who live across from each other. It consists of each person having three cards that they post in a prominent window/door of the house. The first is GREEN which means everything is OK. The second is YELLOW which means they need help with something, or something picked up at the store (this means come and check in). The last card is RED. That means I need help! Obviously you would not use the red card for a real emergency because the person meant to see it might not always be home. But for two people that just want to keep tabs on each other it’s an easy way to say “I’m OK.” The card should be big… like 8 x 8 inches at least, otherwise they won’t easily be seen from a distance.
- Reach out to your Alzheimer’s Association to see if they are setting up virtual support groups by phone or computer. Our local association is training facilitators as we speak to implement this new way of keeping in touch. If you have a problem and need help in your caregiving journey, make sure to call the 24-hour hotline 1-800-272-3900. That number is still active. Most of our local staff are working from home, but check their mail often. If the hotline number is called, they take your information and notify one of the local staff for follow-up within a day or two. They are also planning educational meetings you can attend virtually.
- During this COVID-19 pandemic, most previously scheduled meetings you had were cancelled or postponed. Sometimes they will set up a Tele-Med appointment for you to communicate from your phone. If you have a scheduled appointment, continue to write down your questions beforehand, and if you can, e-mail them a copy before your appointment so that they can properly address your concerns. When you have the Tele-Med appointment have a copy of the letter in front of you so that you can check off each question as it is answered.
- It is important to keep abreast of the news during this time so you are aware of what your government is asking of you. You also want to understand the reasoning for the direction. Try to avoid getting yourself into a state of panic. Panic gets you nowhere, but causes you to have a less well-functioning immune system, more apprehension, and worry….and possibly sleepless nights!
- It is also good to watch entertaining programs on TV as a diversion to the world around you. Sometimes a little denial is a good thing!
- Get as much sleep as you can. During these stressful times it is important to make sure our brains get enough sleep to recoup itself. It’s cleaning cycle happens while you sleep, so take advantage of that and get plenty of rest.
- Remember to drink lots of water. It helps to flush you system of the byproducts as well as to keep you hydrated. Did you know you could get a headache from being dehydrated?
- Should you fall ill, keep contact with your physician, monitor your temperature, and if you have one, a finger oxygen meter is helpful to monitor if you are getting enough oxygen (94-100) is normal. Covid-19 can have no symptoms, or can present with: aches & pains, headache, fever (above 102 the doctor should know about it), dry cough, loss of sense of taste and smell, chills that go along with a fever, and perhaps some trouble breathing (doctor should know). Take Tylenol rather than Ibuprophen (as long as the fever isn’t really high, the fever helps kill the virus)!
- During your isolation, try to accomplish some things that you have meant to do for ages, but haven’t had the time. Small but meaninful things that you can fit into your already full days! They don’t have to be chores….they can be fun things….a puzzle, a book, cleaning your earrings, sitting on the porch in the sun with your eyes closed….whatever makes you happy!
I’m sure I have left lots of good ideas out. What ones are you doing that help you to get through your days with more happiness and contentment?