Are you a full-time or part-time caregiver of a family member with dementia or other cognitive disorders?
Then this blog post is for you. It is already challenging enough trying to occupy a loved one with dementia during the day, especially if he or she is home-bound or has moderate to severe symptoms.
Now with the COVID-19 restriction, the challenge has become even greater. Luckily, there are still some safe ways available to keep your loved one active during this time.
Check out some of the following ideas:
- Social distancing visits: If your loved one or client was used to visiting with others before, make that a scheduled priority with social distancing precautions in mind. Communications include online chats and messaging, curbside visits, visits through the window of the home, writing letters, and talking to family and friends on the phone.
- In-home exercise: Pull out Youtube and start familiarizing yourself with some in-home exercise tutorials appropriate for elderly adults. Each exercise will vary due to interest and physical capability, but most exercise programs for elderly adults can be modified or changed in some way. Examples include living room yoga, tai-chi, Zumba (specifically for older adults), aerobics, line dancing, etc.
- Household chores: Schedule some chores for your loved one to safely participate in. Supervision and choice of chore will vary depending on how severe dementia symptoms are. Examples include sitting and folding laundry, making the bed, washing and putting away dishes, preparing simple meals, sweeping or vacuuming the floor, washing windows or mirrors, wiping down tables and counter tops, etc.
- Online gaming: If the cognitive capacity is there (mild to moderate dementia), introduce your loved one to the world of online games and activities. This doesn’t have to be “Minecraft” or “Mortal Combat”. Instead, think online paint-by-numbers, word-finds, crossword and jigsaw puzzles, and trivia.
- Fine motor activities: Keep the hands busy by finding or order fine motor activities that are new or reflect old hobbies that your loved one used to participate in regularly. Examples include: knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, coloring, painting, sketching, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, embroidery, beadwork, clay or pottery work, weaving, playing a musical instrument, and so on. Use sound judgment in supplying tools such as needles.
- Community walks: There’s no rules against going on walks around the neighborhood. Take a short walk (or propulsion if you’re loved one is in a chair). Use appropriate supervision if your loved one has a tendency to wander.
- Household projects: Instead of thinking “household chores”, think about household projects that have gone by the wayside. This could include replacing a dead lightbulb, cleaning or replacing an air-conditioning filter, repairing a leaky faucet, painting the walls of the bedroom, refurnishing old furniture, and replacing a faulty door knob to name a few. Choose tasks that will capture your loved ones attention, but ones that they can participate in safely with supervision.
If you are having trouble keeping your loved one busy, or if you feel like you are burning out, feel free to call their physician, therapist, or any other clinician who regularly consults with them for ideas.
Keep yourself healthy mentally and physically by working in appropriate breaks throughout the day and communicating with other family members or friends who can pitch in some assistance.