ACT on Alzheimer's: Sheltering in Place: A Few Tips

In an effort to raise awareness, educate our community and assist families who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease, this month’s article will highlight tips on coping during this challenging time of sheltering in place, while keeping ourselves, and others, safe and well. The fear and anxiety about serious illness can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Being asked to shelter in place with social distancing can contribute to depression. With added caregiving responsibilities we can experience fatigue, anger, or resentment. To protect your health and well being, taking care of your mental and emotional is essential. Here are some ideas that may help.

Maintain a regular daily routine and healthy lifestyle.

In times of uncertainty, having a regular daily routine provides some structure and predictability that we all need right now. Get dressed and ready for the day. Eat regular meals and fit in some fresh air and exercise each day. 

Improve sleep

This can be a challenge for some caregivers, depending on the person they are caring for. For some taking a power nap helps. Rest is one of the most effective ways to boost your immune system and improve well being.

Focus on what you can control and limit “what if” thinking

The news can be scary. Individuals, companies, or other organizations might be doing things that you don’t agree with. There is nothing you can do about these things. Don’t hold onto the things that are out of your control. It will steal your energy, making you anxious and angry. Focus only on what you can control. For example, limit watching the news, wash your hands, stay at home, stay 6 ft away from people and practice recommendations for home cleaning and sanitizing. When “what if” thoughts creep in; which is perfectly natural. Reign in those thoughts by imaging some positive “what if” scenarios, (like, what if nobody in my family gets sick?) – after all, positive things can also happen. ☺. Always return to focus on the present moment and the things you can control. That is where your power is. 

Give yourself a break

You are doing the best you can to get through this challenging time. You are taking on a lot right now; physically and emotionally. Be mindful of holding yourself to an unfair standard. Use positive self-talk to give yourself a break from self-criticism. Talk to yourself  like a kind, supportive friend would. Talk to yourself like you would to your best friend.  Hearing positive, supportive statements in your head reduces stress, creating a pleasant and calming energy. 

Create a back up plan if you become ill

It can be concerning to think about if you become ill, who will care for this person? To ease this worry, take practical precautions. Create a backup care plan now, while you’re well. Here are a few tips to get started:

•Choose someone to take over for you, if needed

•Create a care plan – write down essential information that the temporary caregiver will need in order to care for this person

•Create a space in your home where you could heal that is away from others

Take mini breaks throughout the day

Taking mini breaks throughout the day will improve your physical and emotional health and help you keep going. Here are a few ideas:

•Through out the day, consciously relax your jaw, neck, and shoulders to relieve overall tension in your body

•Drink water and have a healthy snack

•Watch a funny video or show

•Call a good friend

•Move and stretch your body to loosen tight muscles and get your blood flowing

•Read a chapter of a book

•Do a 2 or 5 minute guided meditation at the free website www.calm.com  or use the Calm app.

FOR MORE RESOURCES and guidance in caring for someone with dementia, contact Jayne Mund, Caregiver Consultant, at 651-257-7905 or email jaynem@familypathways.org.

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