Family caregivers undoubtedly have one of the toughest jobs out there; and during the pandemic their unpaid hours have increased even more. Over 65,000 family caregivers in our state contribute to the 17 billion hours of unpaid care in our country each year for Alzheimer’s disease. Here are a few tips for caregivers during COVID-19.
- Make your life easier. Make less trips to the pharmacy by asking your primary care physician to fill medicines for longer amounts of time — for instance, a 90-day rather than a 30-day prescription. Maintain a consistent routine day to day, as people living with dementia do really well with a regular schedule every day. When plans change, this may cause anxiety, confusion and behavior changes like mood swings. Areas you can build routines around are meals, hobbies, and times to wake up and go to bed. With the approaching holiday season, one can feel overwhelmed. Think about ways you can simplify holiday activities and make new traditions.
- Ask for help. Easier said than done for many of us, but it is encouraged especially now when many regular activities for seniors are limited due to safety concerns. The Alzheimer’s Aloha Chapter offers free support services and classes. Call the Helpline any time of day or night: 800-272-3900. Join a support group to talk story with fellow caregivers, sign up for a class online, or schedule a personalized Care Consultation. Sometimes our ohana and friends want to help, but they don’t know what to do. Be specific when they offer — suggest they sit with your loved one, run an errand for you, or bring a meal over to give you extra time.
- Stay calm, confident and healthy. Many people living with Alzheimer’s disease can pick up on other people’s emotions or can sense negative energy. It is important to focus on doing things you enjoy to relax. Believe in your amazing ability as a caregiver and decision maker — you’ve gotten this far! Focus on your health and take a minute to ask yourself what you need to access wellness. Staying active, eating healthy, getting a good night’s sleep, and connecting socially are pillars for overall health.
For more updated information on caregiving during COVID-19, visit alz.org/covid19
By Christine Spencer, Regional Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Aloha Chapter Maui County