Alzheimer Society of B.C. is urging area residents not to forget about people living with dementia and their caregivers. (Submitted photo)

Staying connected to those with Alzheimer’s more important now than ever

Distancing measures of COVID-19 means getting creative in keeping touch with loved one

Chilliwack residents are being invited to learn practical strategies about long-distance caregiving of family members living with dementia.

And now, with physical distancing and isolation due to COVID-19, that information is more crucial than ever. While maintaining distance during this time is essential, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is urging area residents not to forget about people living with dementia and their caregivers.

“During this time of increased isolation, many people affected by dementia may feel disconnected from support networks and will face unexpected challenges,” says Victoria Wilson, a Support & Education Coordinators for the Society’s East Fraser region.

One way the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is offering support is through free weekly webinars, including one on May 13 that addresses the timely topic of long-distance caregiving.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia affects the whole family.

“A person living with dementia needs more and more help as the disease progresses – and family members are often the first people to provide this help,” Wilson says. “However, when family members aren’t living with the person – often in other cities, provinces or even countries – caregiving can present special challenges, even under normal circumstances. Long-distance caregiving is even more of a challenge in these uncertain times.”

READ MORE: Case of missing Chilliwack senior with Alzheimer’s renews call for Silver Alert

They offers up some tips for long-distance caregiving, and remind caregivers that staying in touch requires regular communication, and now includes involving others for additional help.

Here are some suggestions:

• Establish a routine: An established routine can be reassuring for everyone. Make a video call with FaceTime or other software, call or write letters/emails to exchange news and find out how things are going. Keep in mind, however, that equipment may only be useful for those in the early stages of the disease.

• Contact the health-care provider: Arrange to meet the person’s health-care provider to get to know them. Establish a way to keep in contact.

• Maintain contact with other caregivers: Stay in touch with any caregivers nearby. This may include a neighbour, a friend, or a relative who lives with, or near, your family member. It could also be a social worker or a staff person from a local Alzheimer Society. Be sure to let these people know that you appreciate their help. Keep in mind the different viewpoints of close and distant relatives. On the one hand, you may be the first to notice a problem. Confusion or memory loss may have developed so gradually that others may not have noticed the change. On the other hand, because you are not there every day, you may not realize how difficult the situation is for the regular caregiver.

• Support each other: If another family member is providing care, talk with them and offer your support. Try to understand each other’s feelings and points of view and talk over what can be done. Find ways to support each other and to share responsibilities.

• Attend a webinar. To learn more about caregiving while physically separate from a person living with dementia or other topics related to the disease, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. invites you to sign up for one of their free webinars.

Upcoming webinars include:

Long-distance caregiving (Wednesday, May 13, 2 or 7 p.m.): Practical tips on providing meaningful caregiving support from a distance. For caregivers.

“Why do I feel this way?” Coping with changes brought by dementia (Wednesday, May 20, 2 p.m.): Explore change and loss and the uncertainty of the dementia experience.

Accessing care services during COVID-19 (Friday, May 27, 2 p.m.): Learn strategies for navigating changes in accessing services and how to get the most out of your interactions with care providers.

To register for any of these webinars, visit alzbc.org/webinars.

READ MORE: Annual Walk for Alzheimer’s moves to online format for 2020


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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