The Lehigh Valley has bid goodbye to another year. The holidays are past, the New Year resolutions have been broken, and holiday visitation, such as it may have been, is over. COVID-19 restrictions may have made it difficult to visit family and friends in care communities, which can take an emotional effort to begin with. After the fuss of the holidays, people with Alzheimer’s can feel especially lonely, a feeling magnified by the weirdness of the current pandemic and its conditions.
According to a recent survey, almost half of the public thinks it’s pointless to keep in contact with dementia patients who cannot recognize familiar faces or remember anything “meaningful.” With current visitation restrictions in place, it is easier to become complacent about visiting your loved ones. This is a sad state of affairs because, although memories of events may fade, they can still feel and remember feelings long after events. Post-holiday blues can affect people with Alzheimer’s as well so this is not the time to neglect them.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to haunt the Lehigh Valley, many caregivers, whether personal or working in memory care communities, are concerned about how this situation affects their caregiving. South Mountain Memory Care’s top priority is the safety of residents, visitors, and staff. Understanding your concerns, we share the following advice from the Centers for Disease Control.
Given the risks that older adults face from both COVID-19 and dementia, CDC is providing this additional guidance to caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to help them manage their patients’ physical and mental wellbeing, as well as their own wellbeing. For people living with dementia, changes in behavior or worsening symptoms of dementia should be evaluated because they can be an indication of worsening stress and anxiety as well as COVID-19 or other infections.
As the holiday season continues on, the Lehigh Valley is seeking to bury our troubled times in a blanket of festive displays and activities, including the requisite holiday shopping.
Holiday and other gift shopping can be fun but difficult at times, depending upon the intended recipient. Gifts can be frivolous or useful, disposable or of lifelong value. Shopping for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia can be especially difficult, because you may feel inadequate to discern what the person would like or can use, or you may think the person won’t recognize or understand the gift. Finding that “perfect gift” may take some extra thought and creativity, and memory-care experts have provided guidelines to give direction to your holiday shopping for that very special someone. You should always check with their healthcare provider who can evaluate their abilities and safety concerns.
When residents of the Lehigh Valley look for a memory care community, there are several things they consider: safety, medical care, environment, location, cost, dining experience, and so on. These are all vital to the quality of life of a dementia patient. But there can be another aspect of care brought on by unique residents of a care community: animals!
Most people grow up in homes with pets or acquire pets when they get older. Dogs, cats, birds, and the like become members of the family. With precautions, Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients can have pets to bring them comfort and companionship. Pet-assisted therapy has become an accepted and beneficial treatment for people with dementia. By their very nature, animals do not judge, and they are not critical. And for someone with dementia, those qualities make them a good companion. Their very presence can help reduce the effects of dementia: anxiety, agitation, irritability, depression, and loneliness. By their friendliness and non-threatening way, animals can help a dementia patient be more interactive, when sometimes they are not able to do so in social settings with other adults.
In the Lehigh Valley, with its festive displays and holiday traditions, holidays can be meaningful, enriching times for both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and his or her family. Maintaining or adapting family rituals and traditions helps all family members feel a sense of belonging and family identity. For a person with Alzheimer’s, this link with a familiar past is reassuring.
However, when celebrations, special events, or holidays include many people, this can cause confusion and anxiety for a person with Alzheimer’s. He or she may find some situations easier and more pleasurable than others. The tips below can help you and the person with Alzheimer’s visit and reconnect with family, friends, and neighbors during holidays. South Mountain Memory Care in Emmaus not only cares about our residents — We are concerned about your peace of mind as a caregiver, too.