Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s hard to love someone with dementia. My mother has Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. After several years of providing more and more care for her at home, she moved into a lovely memory care facility.
The COVID-19 pandemic is more than enough to wear anyone out. The prevention practices alone are exhausting — remembering your mask, disinfecting, social distancing — all those unpleasantries that the responsible among us deal with every day. Add caring for a loved one to the mix and you need to be on alert for caregiver burnout.
If you are like many people, you may automatically think that eating healthy means eating bland, boring, tasteless food — that you’ll be stuck munching on a radish while dreaming of pizza, fried foods, and other naughty cuisines.
But it just isn’t true! Eating healthy can not only be tolerable — it can be delicious and exciting. Think salads, bursting with contrasting tastes; savory, hearty main courses; and yes, even the occasional dessert.
No matter your age or physical condition, your body needs to move to stay healthy. Exercise for the elderly is one of the most important means of keeping not just bodies in tip-top shape — it helps keep minds healthy, too. And for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, stimulating the mind is key to slowing down the progress of mental decline, by clearing out amyloid plaques and repairing neural connections, according to recent research.
Few would deny the power music can have on emotional and mental well-being — even physical health. Studies have shown that music can not only boost mood and reduce stress, but listening to certain kinds of music may also improve mental function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Many seniors are forced to stay inside their homes during the COVID crisis, due to their increased vulnerability. As U.S. cases continue to skyrocket, so can a growing sense of loneliness, isolation, and despair in these individuals, who cannot interact with the outside world like many others are able to do. These feelings can contribute to severe depression, in which many neurologists state can increase the likelihood of dementia in older patients.
How can we as caretakers help address these difficult emotions in a helpful, constructive way?