6 Ways to Help Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s When Visits are Restricted

Even if social distancing is preventing you from visiting your loved ones in care facilities, there are still ways to show them you care.

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- Posted on Mar 27, 2020

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Due to the spread of Covid-19, many of you, like me, have been restricted from visiting your loved one in a memory care center. I know this is important for everyone's safety and appreciate the guidelines, but I miss being able to see my mother in person.

To ease my feelings of helplessness, I came up with a social distancing caregiving plan. Here are a few tips for helping your loved and their caregivers during this difficult time.

1. Send pictures

Mom’s caregivers surprised me with a photograph via text the other day. Mom is smiling at the camera and holding a sign that says,”I love you and I am okay!” What a thoughtful way of easing my mind! If you haven’t received a photograph since visitation was restricted, maybe you can request one from a staff member. And be sure to text a selfie back that the staff can show your loved one.

2. Send a care package

If you are allowed to do so, make a care package to mail to your loved one, making sure to disinfect each item. Hand lotion is a welcome gift right now due to the constant hand washing and sanitizing that dries out the skin. Many residents are being fed now in isolation rather than a group setting, so it might be nice to include a favorite snack that would make their meals or time between meals more enticing.

The latest CDC guidelines have indicated that mail is generally safe from the virus. But be sure to check with the facility first to see what their rule is regarding receiving packages.

3. Call often

If your loved one can answer her phone, call often so that they can hear a familiar voice. Even if they no longer recognize your voice, they will at least hear a friendly greeting. You can also put together a video with a message from each person in your family.

If your loved one is unable to answer the phone themselves, be considerate of the staff who are probably working longer shifts during this time. Check to see if it's possible to arrange a certain time and day to call that is convenient for the staff.

Get more tips on helping a love one with Dementia during the coronavirus crisis. 

4. Pray

My sister and I start each day with prayer and make sure to specifically pray for our mother and my mother-in-law. Here's an example of one of my prayers:

“Lord, I choose to put my trust in You today. Please surround my mother with a hedge of protection to keep any sickness away from her. Bless the caregivers who are selflessly taking care of our loved one. Keep them safe and virus-free that they may continue to care for those who cannot care for themselves.” Throughout the day, every time I think of Mom I say another quick prayer.

5. Show the staff your appreciation

The caregivers, nurses, laundresses and cooks are working hard to do what we are unable to do. As I remain in isolation due to underlying health issues that put me at higher risk for contracting the virus, I am so thankful for their commitment to continue to care for Mom. Every time I speak with them on the phone, I make sure to express my gratitude.

6. Deliver extra items

Hopefully the care facility is stocked with necessary items, but if you happen to have some items that may be hard for the staff to get, such as N95 masks, hand sanitizers, disposable gloves or bleach products, I’m sure that they could use extras. If you feel led, perhaps you can donate these items to the care facility.

This is a difficult time for everybody, and especially difficult for those of us separated from our loved ones. Doing what I can to let my mom know I care, as well as spending a lot of time in prayer, has helped me focus on God over my anxiety.

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