Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Alzheimer’s and dementia can have a devastating impact on families and caregivers, especially women. Not only are women more likely to have Alzheimer’s, they are also more likely to be caregivers of those living with Alzheimer’s. In the United States, more than 13 million women are either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it. In Oklahoma alone, an estimated 151,000 Oklahoma women are caregivers. Women take on more caregiving tasks than their male counterparts – and care for people with more cognitive, functional, and behavioral problems. Nearly 19% of women Alzheimer’s caregivers had to quit work either to become a caregiver or because their caregiving duties became too burdensome. During the global pandemic that our society is facing, it’s more important than ever to make sure that caregivers are taking care of their own physical and mental health.
Caregiving During Coronavirus
As coronavirus cases continue to rise, cities and states across the country are doing what they can to help flatten the curve. More than 40 states have enacted some kind of restriction on the movement of people by issuing different types of orders to help keep people at home — including shelter-in-place, stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders.
Finding ways to stay engaged and active during this crisis is proving to be challenging for many Americans, but it can be particularly challenging for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. To help caregivers engage their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association offers a variety of tips, including:
- Start by asking yourself these questions: What do they like to do? What are they able to do? And, what are they in the mood for today? Spending time with a loved one with Alzheimer’s and other dementia can remain meaningful and fun — especially if you take your cue from the person.
- Encourage involvement in daily life activities: Activities that help the individual feel like a valued part of the household — like setting the table and folding laundry — can provide a sense of success and accomplishment.
- Be prepared to adjust and modify activities: Activities may need to be adjusted or modified to adhere to stay-at-home orders. Consider low-impact at-home workout videos. Play a game — checkers, cards, or board games. Look at photo albums.
- Ask for help: Ask family members and friends for help with some non-contact chores, like putting the trash out, getting the mail, or mowing the lawn. Consider meal and grocery delivery services.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you aren’t able to take care of others. Remember to eat well, get regular physical activity, and manage your own stress levels. A few tips for self-care include reaching out to others for social support, engaging in your favorite hobbies, and being out in nature. For more ideas and resources, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 1-800-272-3900 and at www.alz.org.
About Aging Advocates
Aging Advocates, a group of area businesses and agencies in the Payne County area meet monthly to advocate for older adults. From their experiences, they innovate ideas and raise awareness of older adult issues. It is important to look at the developing needs of the aging population and support, educate, and identify services valuable to a life fully lived.
Online Resources for you
- Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900 / https://alz.org/help-support/resources/helpline
- Online Education Programs Listing: https://www.communityresourcefinder.org/
- Stay Connected with us on Facebook: facebook.com/alzoklahoma
- Caregiver Stress: https://alz.org/help-support/caregiving/caregiver-health/caregiver-stress
- Caregiver Depression: https://alz.org/help-support/caregiving/caregiver-health/caregiver-depression
- Depression (re: people with dementia): https://alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/depression
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tips for Dementia Caregivers: https://alz.org/help-support/caregiving/coronavirus-(covid-19)-tips-for-dementia-care
- Preparing for COVID-19: Long-term Care Facilities, Nursing Homes: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/prevent-spread-in-long-term-care-facilities.html
- If You Are at Higher Risk: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html