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9 Mental Health Tips for Dementia Caregivers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As any dementia caregiver can tell you, caring for a loved one with dementia is an extremely difficult job, one that challenges both their physical and mental health – even under the best of circumstances. Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, dementia caregivers’ lives have become even more stressful and their mental health has become that much more fragile.

According to mental health experts, adapting to lifestyle changes necessitated by the coronavirus-CDC guidelines – including managing the fear of contracting the virus and worrying about the most vulnerable people in our lives – makes caring for a loved one with dementia significantly more taxing and potentially dangerous for caregivers. They say the added stress of living in isolation while taking care of a loved one makes the potential for caregiver burnout and its physical and mental health consequences more likely.

“Therefore, during this difficult time, it is critically important for dementia caregivers to practice self-care that supports good mental and physical health,” says Crystal Yost, PCHA, PCH, Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA.

“Fortunately, mental health specialists say there are a variety of steps caregivers can take to reduce their anxiety and boost their mood in the process.”

 

Coping During the Pandemic: Mental Health Tips for Dementia Caregivers

The World Health Organization and other mental health-related authorities provide specific ideas for reducing dementia caregiver stress and anxiety during the pandemic, including:

  1. Seek facts and avoid worrisome rumors about the virus – Don’t stress over every false rumor. Instead, use legitimate news sources such as the CDC website on coronavirus to stay abreast of the latest information on the virus and safety guidelines for your area.
     
  2. Try to maintain your normal routine – Mental health experts say that dementia caregivers should try to adhere to their regular daily activities. Doing so can provide you with a sense of structure, comfort and normality that supports mental health.
     
  3. Practice good health habits – Because of the higher risk of physical and mental health problems for dementia caregivers, it is critical to follow healthy lifestyle practices. These include staying physically active or exercising, eating nutritious foods and getting outside for some clean, fresh air. These habits support strength and energy, boost the immune system and promote your overall well-being. And as always, older Americans should consult with their physician before starting any new exercise regimen.”   
                               
  4. Get sufficient sleep – No one does well when they feel tired and exhausted. This is especially true for dementia caregivers whose days are often long and exhausting. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night and create a sleep-friendly environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. Also, avoid eating food or drinking caffeine before bedtime and use the bedroom only for sleep.
     
  5. Grant yourself daily “me time” – As a dementia caregiver, you lead a selfless but hectic life. Gift yourself some time alone every day to enjoy activities that give you peace and pleasure. Whether it’s listening to your favorite music, enjoying a good book, or spending time gardening, personal time can relieve stress and improve your mental outlook.
     
  6. Use relaxation techniques – Several simple relaxation techniques can help dementia caregivers to relieve stress and improve their mental state. These techniques include meditation, visualization, breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation. Try more than one to find which works best for you.
     
  7. Maintain your social connections – During this time of “social distancing,” it is vital for dementia caregivers to stay in contact with friends and family. You can use Zoom or Skype on your computer, or, if you don’t have access to a computer, you can always use FaceTime on your smartphone. Socialization, even if it is not in person, remains key to maintaining your mental equilibrium.
     
  8. Avoid or limit alcohol use – Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink alcohol at all. Don’t start drinking alcohol if you have not drunk alcohol before. Avoid using alcohol as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and social isolation. It can also interrupt your sleep.
     
  9. Ask for help – Even during the best of times, dementia caregiving is highly stressful and can affect your mental health. Therefore, ask a friend or family member to help you with errands. They can ease your burden by picking up groceries, prescriptions and household items. Also, many foodservice and mail-order pharmacy services are now available that will deliver right to your door.

Crystal adds, “We’ll all get through this together. In the meantime, follow these tips to safeguard your mental health and mood. And remember, this too will pass!”

Please Click HERE for information on our efforts at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr to keep our residents, care providers, support staff and visitors safe. We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on dementia care.  Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.

 

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “9 Mental Health Tips for Dementia Caregivers During the coronavirus pandemic,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

 

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

 

Helping Families Be “Family” Again.

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. 

For more information, please call Crystal at 484.380.5403 or contact us online. 

 

Voted Best of the Main Line 2020 by Loyal Readers

 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.