For people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, routines and reminders can be critical for helping them to live their best life possible.
Because of COVID-19, unpaid caregivers are spending more time with their loved ones and possibly more time doing direct care. Creating a daily care plan for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can provide needed structure and allow more time to spend on satisfying activities for both.
Pam Myers, Program Director for the Northwest Ohio Chapter, said “We know that caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia poses special challenges for caregivers, who are often providing this care alone. Establishing a daily plan around activities, meals, and medication delivery can be effective in providing support to the person living with dementia and decrease stress for the caregiver.”
In the United States, 83 percent of the help provided to older adults comes from family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers. Nearly half of all caregivers who provide help to older adults do so for someone living with Alzheimer's or another dementia.
Eric VanVlymen, Ohio Regional Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, said a daily plan could consist of:
Social time, such as having tea together or watching the person’s favorite old shows together
Cognitive engagement, such as word search, puzzles or anything that keeps the mind busy
Physical activity, based on ability, like taking walks or senior sittercise activities
Hobby time, which depends on the person’s direct interests (remember they may need to be modified based on current abilities)
Meal time, which can be important markers in a person’s day
Nap time, because it is important to give them time to relax
Caregivers should also remember what times of day the person functions best, to leave ample times for meals, bathing and dressing and regular times for waking up and going to bed, he said.
During this pandemic, written or verbal reminders about things like the need to wash your hands thoroughly and why social distancing is important could help everyone in the household to stay healthy. The National Institute on Aging suggests the best way to help someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia take their medicine safely and correctly is to understand the medicines they take, track the amounts, watch for side effects, and use pillboxes with alarms that remind a person to take the medication.
Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal brain disease that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. As the disease progresses, the abilities of the person will change. As that occurs, creativity, flexibility and problem solving, will be important as caregivers adapt their daily routine to support these changes.
One last thing - remember to make time for yourself, or include the person living with dementia in activities that you enjoy. As a caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your loved one.
For more information about how to write a plan, go to https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/daily-care/daily-care-plan. Myers said, "If you would like help developing a care plan for your loved one living with Alzheimer's or dementia, our staff can assist you." During regular business hours, you can reach the Northwest Ohio staff by calling 419-537-1999. Help is always available 24/7 at our Helpline 1-800-272-3900.
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.