Barcelona, March 23rd 2020
Recommendations of the experts to improve the day-to-day life of the people affected
10 tips for the well-being of people with dementia during confinement
• The experts at Fundació ACE agree that drawing up your own timetable is essential
• Time routines, stimulation activities and habits are fundamental aspects that should be taken into account
In the wake of the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus situation, many families are confined to their homes to prevent the spread of the virus. People over 65 are a group at risk and therefore specific prevention and protection measures are essential to ensure their health and safety.
In this context, it is relevant to pay attention to people with dementia or Alzheimer's, as they usually have a routine set up that allows them to function with a certain amount of autonomy for as long as possible, but this has suddenly been interrupted. This is a difficult situation for everyone, but for a person with dementia, the loss of this routine can lead to situations that are difficult to manage, such as irritability, aggressiveness, disorientation or sadness. How can we explain to them that they cannot leave the house? How can we help them?
The experts' recommendations
The team of experts at Fundación ACE, an Alzheimer's diagnosis, treatment and research organisation, agrees that drawing up a timetable of their own is essential. The 10 tips from professionals to organize it are the following:
1. Follow a schedule adapted to the situation. It is an exceptional time and, therefore, the schedule must also reflect this: taking into account that we must be at home all day and we do not have so many activities to do, it is not necessary to get up early, but it is necessary to establish a schedule to get up. At night, it is important to keep the usual schedule to go to sleep and thus preserve sleep habits, as it will prevent them from suffering from fatigue during the day.
2. Maintain the habits. Even if we spend the day at home during confinement, it is essential to maintain hygiene and dressing habits, so as not to fall into apathy and lack of personal care.
3. Eating healthy. It is necessary to follow a varied and balanced diet within the possibilities, avoiding heavy meals: on days of confinement less energy is consumed and therefore less caloric intake is needed. It is necessary to ensure that the diet is rich in fibre to avoid constipation in the event of a fall in physical activity. It is also important to follow a good hydration during the day and also accompany the affected person in the adequate intake of medication.
4. Plan time for socialization. The schedule to follow should also contemplate some moments for the affected person to socialize, always maintaining, above all, the appropriate measures these days: video calls can be made with the grandchildren, siblings, friends... These relationships are important to minimize the feeling of loneliness, both of the person being cared for and their caregiver.
5. Perform cognitive stimulation activities. It is a fundamental part of staying mentally active. You can find easy activities that you like and combine them. Some examples are doing sudoku, reading aloud, copying poems or texts, word exercises... The tools can be anything from paper and pencil to digital tablets, if you know how to use them.
6. Carry out creative activities. Undoubtedly, continuing with the activities that are usually done will help to maintain a good mood. From crocheting, origami crafts or bookmarks, or, in the case of those who are at a more advanced stage, painting a box or cutting out figures from magazines.
7. Involve them. It is important that those affected participate in simple household tasks, such as watering the plants, sweeping or setting the table, although it is necessary to understand that they may make mistakes. The feeling of being useful to the household will boost their self-esteem.
8. Practice physical activity. Moving around and doing some physical activity is important during confinement: you can climb stairs or do exercises that move your body within the possibilities - for example, dancing. It is recommended that these activities be carried out in the morning, if possible interspersed with more sedentary activities, and not when tired or before going to sleep.
9. Take care of yourself. Painting your nails, combing your hair or massaging your feet or hands are some of the most frequent and simple actions you can do for your own well-being. But it is also necessary to find time to listen to music that you like, for example.
10. Dedicate time to your interests. If the person develops spirituality habitually, whether it is through guided mindfulness meditations or prayer, for example, it is also recommended to dedicate time to it in order to favour his tranquillity.
Amèrica Morera, deputy director of the Day Care Unit of Fundació ACE, stresses that "in general terms, it is a matter of preserving the routine as much as possible, but making them participate in activities that make them feel useful will also improve their self-esteem and mood".
Home confinement can generate situations in which emotions are uncontrollable, according to the caregivers who are contacting the Fundación ACE team these days. The advice is unanimous in this sense: change activity, do not get into a discussion and keep calm and, if it does not work, contact the referring doctor.
More information in this link.