By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions
As the impact of the coronavirus continues, here are a few ideas for those with loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.
Watch for any sudden increase in confusion as increased confusion and anxiety often is the first sign of an illness among persons living with dementia. They may not be able to tell you something is wrong. If a loved one living with dementia shows a rapid increase in confusion or anxiety, contact their health care provider.
Hand washing throughout the day and especially before eating is most likely the #1 defense against viruses. People living with dementia may need extra reminders and support in regard to hand washing.
Here are a few tips . . .
Consider placing signs in the bathroom and elsewhere as reminders to wash hands with soap for 20 seconds.
Make hand washing an activity rather than a task. You may be able to encourage longer and more frequent hand washing by singing choruses of “Happy Birthday”.
Use a soothing tone to encourage hand washing and understand that you may have to explain or use your hands to model step-by-step what needs to be done. You may want to say “first we wet our hands under the water.” When that is done, then “we use the soap dispenser to squeeze some soap onto our hands. Then we rub our hands together with the soap. Lather the back of our hands. Lather between our fingers. Lather under our nails.”
Consider using a fragranced soap, such as lavender, to help enhance the sensory experience of hand washing for the individual living with dementia.
Soap dispensers may be easier to use than bars of soap. If you are using a bar of soap, make sure to keep the bar free from water so the bar can dry after washing.
Make sure the room and water temperature are comfortable.
While an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a quick alternative to hand washing if a person living with dementia cannot get to a sink or wash their hands easily, using a hand sanitizer should not replace washing hands with soap and water.
For more information on Coronavirus prevention tips for Alzheimer’s Family Caregivers from the Alzheimer’s Foundation, click here.
Staying Mentally Active
Charles Fuschillo Jr., President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, points out the importance for persons living with dementia to stay active and engaged. Cognitively stimulating activities can benefit both persons living with dementia and caregivers. The activities can improve mood, reduce stress, and avoid caregiver burnout.
To learn about easy and cognitively stimulating activities caregivers can do with loved ones living with dementia to help exercise their minds using things they already have at home, click here.
If Your Loved One is in Assisted Living
For us at Gardant, the residents in the senior living, assisted living and memory care communities we managed are our Number #1 priority.
We have been monitoring the situation very closely with federal, state and local authorities. We have been and continue to be highly proactive in taking steps to help ensure the health and welfare of all residents and limiting possible exposure to COVID-19 or another virus.
This includes the implementation of enhanced infection control protocol and enhanced staff training. This includes a special focus on staff frequently cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day items that are likely to be highly touched such as countertops, door handles, telephones and computer keyboards.
Following the directives of state and local governmental entities, we have secured the front doors to our communities on a 24/7 basis. We have restricted visitors to only imminent end-of-life situations, a family member directly involved with the daily care of a memory care resident, and emergency personnel.
We are helping residents keep in touch with family members through cell phone and computer applications like FaceTime, Skype and Zoom.
Gardant operates memory care communities in Huntley, McHenry and South Elgin, Illinois; Noblesville, Indiana; Berlin, Maryland; and Williamsburg, Virginia. To learn more and to access contact information for Gardant-managed senior living, assisted living and memory care communities, visit our website.