Our friends at UsAgainstAlzheimer’s have created a resources list from AARP and other member organizations that may help as you navigate the Coronavirus. Access this repository of resources here. We all need to be extra vigilant around the elderly and those with dementia, who are most vulnerable.
A March 10, 2020 WMC Action News 5 broadcast segment laid-out how caregivers can best help people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias avoid contracting the contagious COVID-19 virus. As hand washing may not be a simple task for people with dementia, speaking in a soothing voice and playing music may provide assistance.
Sources for information about stress and anxiety caused from the Coronavirus outbreak:
- The Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/coping.html
- The Harvard Health Blog: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/coping-with-coronavirus-anxiety-2020031219183
Practical strategies to keep anxiety at bay from the World Health Organization:
- accept that it’s normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry during an outbreak
- find ways to talk about how you feel with others, especially if you are in quarantine
- remember to keep an eye out for your children during this time, and for loved ones who already have mental illness. They may need help dealing with this added anxiety
- if you feel overwhelmed, seek support from a health professional
- don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions. Keep your body as healthy as possible by eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep
- limit worry by limiting media exposure to a few trusted sources
- draw on skills you have used in the past that have helped you to get through difficult times.
A March 4, 2020 Being Patient article and video interview discussed the heightened risk of people with dementia contracting the Coronavirus. A person with dementia may not even notice their own symptoms if they become ill. Being Patient Founder Deborah Kan spoke with geriatric psychiatrist Dr. James M. Ellison of Christiana Care, in Delaware, about what to look for, how to prepare and best ways to keep your loved ones safe.
News to Know:
A March 4, 2020 Psychology Today article focused on why people with dementia can become suddenly aggressive and best practices for handling it. The damage to the front part of the brain, found especially in people with vascular dementia, may lower inhibitions and allow for inappropriate actions, words and behaviors they would not normally exhibit. These types of behaviors can lead to serious safety consequences. According to the article, “Many individuals with dementia have both apathy and difficulty controlling impulses. They may be completely content sitting in a chair for hours, but if you want them to do something different—such as go to the bathroom to prevent an accident, get dressed to go to an appointment, brush their teeth, bathe, or get out of the car after it is parked—not only can they willfully resist but they may suddenly become violent with little warning.”
A March 3, 2020 Integrated Care News article by psychologist Barry J. Jacobs PsyD explored the relationship between physicians and family caregivers of loved ones with chronic illnesses. Jacobs quoted data from an UsAgainstAlzheimer’s A-LIST survey, which reported that only 10% of dementia caregivers were asked by a primary care provider how they were coping. According to Jacobs, “In the nearly 30 years I have been a medical educator, healthcare consultant, and psychologist specializing in family caregiving, I have seen a gradual shifting of physician attitudes toward patients’ family members. Like Americans as whole, more physicians have personal experience with caregiving.”
A March 12, 2020 Medical Xpress article highlighted the types of personality traits which protect brain structures against neurodegeneration, assessed by Swiss researchers and based on brain imaging and psycho-cognitive evaluations.They found that people who are “less agreeable but with a natural curiosity and little conformism” show better preservation of brain regions that lose volume in Alzheimer’s disease.
Stay tuned! Our regular schedule of support groups, education events and fundraisers will resume as soon as possible!!
TO BE DETERMINED: Ales for Alzheimer’s Saturday, March 21, 2 – 6 pm, at Avondale Brewery. The Jr. Board’s major spring fundraiser is a family friendly event featuring beer, food, music, a raffle and auction. All proceeds benefit ACA’s Pre Doctoral Scholars Program in Alzheimer’s Research at UAB.
TO BE DETERMINED: The UAB School of Nursing is offering a conference, “Strategies for Preventing & Managing Difficult Dementia Behaviors”, with Rita Jablonski, PhD, CRNP, FGSA, FAAN, Friday, March 27, 8:30 – 3:30.
CANCELLED: ACA Lunch & Learn, March 31, with Christy Baynes, President and Lead Geriatric Care Manager of LifeCare for Seniors. Her presentation, “Help, I’ve Fallen & I Can’t Get Up”, will offer solutions for difficult caregiving situations. Stay tuned and we will reschedule!