Helping those with dementia navigate the coronavirus crisis
People living with dementia or Alzheimer's are facing unique challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. The stress has taken a toll not only on them but also on their caregivers.
Beth Kallmyer of the Alzheimer's Association says right now it's important to stimulate your loved one with simple and familiar things.
"A change in routine can cause somebody to wander that's never wandered before," she said.
Caregivers should also watch for increased confusion, focus on hygiene and hand-washing for both themselves and their loved ones, and have a plan for care if they get sick.
"If you don't have that plan ahead of time, trying to manage that in a crisis is really challenging," Kallmyer said.
Since her Alzheimer's diagnosis last year, 82-year-old Lucy Lee's daughter Marcella has become her caregiver.
"This self-isolation period has her very confused," Marcella said.
The role of a caregiver is challenging and it's even more difficult during the coronavirus outbreak.
"I think I've answered the same question 100 times as to why I'm not working and why the kids aren't in school," Marcella said.
Lucy enjoys looking through family photo albums and finds comfort in walks and board games with her grandkids. Marcella says caregivers also need to find time to unwind.
"It's really important for everyone right now to take care of their mental health, but especially for caregivers because it is an abundance of stress," Marcella said.
While self-quarantine isn't easy, Lucy is adjusting to her new routine. With her family's help, she's finding new ways to connect to the outside world during these uncertain times, including doing video chats with people she can't see in person right now.
The Alzheimer's Association has a 24/7 helpline to provide support during the pandemic. You can call 1-800-272-3900 to speak with a counselor or social worker.