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Dementia: We’re Not Post-COVID Yet

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If you have a family member or loved one with dementia, this pandemic and its restrictions have been exponentially worse than for the rest of us who have “just” sheltered in place.  Depending on where you and your loved one with dementia may call home, you may be seeing the beginning of a relaxation of the more stringent measures to stop the spread of this virus.  But dementia – and this may differ a bit depending on type of dementia – has presented and continues to present some added challenges to your safety and the safety of your loved one.

I’d like to offer these suggestions for you or anyone you may know who is caring for a loved one with dementia at home:

  • If you have professional home care help that comes to your home, don’t wait to be surprised by any changes in their protocols – call and ask when or if protocols for hygiene may be changing;
  • Changes or not in agency protocols, it is your house, and you can set your own rules for hygiene and face masks;
  • With your caregiver (and other visitors to your home), do your own contact tracing – ask about any exposures to others with the virus and where and when;
  • You probably had implemented some reminders about hygiene for your loved – keep the post-it reminder noted in the bath about hand washing, etc.;
  • Continue to be patient with your loved one if they forget about hand-washing or wearing the mask outside – your patience will be tested as much by your own anxiety as your loved one’s forgetfulness;
  • If your family or community has lost a loved one to COVID-19, don’t remind your loved one about the loss if they ask about this individual again – it only makes them relive the grief as if it were new.

I’ll  make this last one separate from those first five you do for your loved one.  Be sure to make taking care of you a daily investment.  As I have always said, you can only take care of someone else if you are also caring for yourself.  Be safe and be well.

Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.

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