Support for those with dementia is being made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic, but help and support are still available. (Photo credit: Stock image)

Don’t forget about people with dementia during the pandemic

Support for those with dementia and their caregivers is now more crucial than ever

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically affect our way of life, providing support for the community’s most vulnerable residents is more important than ever. One way the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is offering support is through free weekly webinars.

While maintaining physical distancing during this time is essential, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is urging area residents not to forget about people living with dementia and their caregivers. “During this time of increased isolation, many people affected by dementia may feel disconnected from support networks and will face unexpected challenges,” says Tara Hildebrand, regional Support and Education Coordinator for the Central Interior region.

A diagnosis of dementia affects the whole family. “A person living with dementia needs more and more help as the disease progresses – and family members are often the first people to provide this help,” Hildebrand says.

“However, when family members aren’t living with the person – often in other cities, provinces, or even countries – caregiving can present special challenges, even under normal circumstances. Long-distance caregiving is even more of a challenge in these uncertain times.”

Caring for someone long distance is even more complicated now that physical distancing and travel restrictions are in place. Staying in touch requires regular communication; staying in touch from a distance also requires involving others to help. Here are some suggestions:

Establish a routine: An established routine can be reassuring for everyone. Make a video call with FaceTime or other software, or call or write letters/emails to exchange news and find out how things are going. Keep in mind, however, that equipment may only be useful for those in the early stages of the disease.

Contact the health care provider: Arrange to meet the person’s health care provider to get to know them. Establish a way to keep in contact.

Maintain contact with other caregivers: Stay in touch with any caregivers nearby. This may include a neighbour, a friend, or a relative who lives with, or near, your family member. It could also be a social worker or a staff person from a local Alzheimer Society. Be sure to let these people know that you appreciate their help. Keep in mind the different viewpoints of close and distant relatives. On the one hand, you may be the first to notice a problem. Confusion or memory loss may have developed so gradually that others may not have noticed the change. On the other hand, because you are not there every day, you may not realize how difficult the situation is for the regular caregiver.

Support each other: If another family member is providing care, talk with them and offer your support. Try to understand each other’s feelings and points of view and talk over what can be done. Find ways to support each other and to share responsibilities.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. invites people to sign up for one of their free webinars. Upcoming webinars include:

• “‘Why do I feel this way?’ Coping with changes brought by dementia” (Wednesday, May 20, 2 p.m.): Explore change and loss and the uncertainty of the dementia experience.

• “Accessing care services during COVID-19” (Friday, May 27, 2 p.m.): Learn strategies for navigating changes in accessing services and how to get the most out of your interactions with care providers.

To register for any of these webinars, please visit https://bit.ly/2LpEuTm.

First Link dementia support is the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s suite of programs and services designed to help. First Link is available throughout the progression of the disease, from diagnosis (or before) to end-of-life care.

Connect to First Link by asking your health care provider for a referral or by calling the First Link Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033. It is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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