Alzheimer’s Society is hearing daily from people affected by dementia worrying about how to cope, unable to get food deliveries, families struggling to explain what’s going on and carers unable to visit vulnerable people in person.
Hazel Bayley, Alzheimer’ Society Head of Region for the North West, shares five ways a person living with dementia can stay active, social and safe right now.
- Know where to go for help
If you already receive some support at home, make a list of key professionals and their contact details and keep it somewhere obvious. This will stop you having to find contact details at a time when you may well feel stressed or unwell.
If you don’t receive support at home, it’s a good idea to make a note of your local authority’s social services department, check which local shops or take-aways offer home delivery and make a note of the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect support line.
The Dementia Connect support line is open 7 days a week (0333 150 3456) and provides information and practical measures for people affected by dementia around the coronavirus, as well as directing people towards other reliable sources.
- Talking Point
You’re not alone – there are plenty of online support networks available, where you can seek ideas, support and advice, including Alzheimer’s Society’s Talking Point.
The online community can connect you with others affected by dementia to share tips and ways to cope during this crisis. It can be accessed online for free, night or day at alzheimers.org.uk/talkingpoint
- Keep the mind active and engaged
Keeping mentally active is as important as keeping physically active, especially as many people with dementia will experience a loss of routine and fewer opportunities to be part of their local community.
If you live with someone with dementia, look for activities to do together. Puzzles and games can be an enjoyable way of keeping the mind active – as well as board games, there are also plenty of activity apps available that you can download. Alzheimer’s Society’s online shop, alzheimers.org.uk/shop has a variety of products like this specifically for people with dementia.
Whatever activity you chose to do, from knitting to puzzles, a routine to do these at set times can help the time pass.
- Seated exercises
Seated exercises from the comfort of your own home are ideal for people who are staying in. They are aimed at building or maintaining muscle strength and balance, without being too strenuous. They can be part of a developing programme, with the number of repetitions of each exercise increased over time. Some examples of seated exercises include:
- turning the upper body from side to side
- raising the heels and toes
- raising the arms towards the ceiling
- raising the opposite arm and leg
- bending the legs
- clapping under the legs
- bicycling the legs
- making circles with the arms
- practising moving from sitting to standing.
You could also try some home versions of your favourite sports, like ten pin bowling with plastic bottles, throwing socks into a laundry bin or create your own coconut shy from the fair ground.
Or why not set a dance alarm every few hours? Whether seated or standing, dancing is a great way to move your body in any way you can without it feeling like physical activity.
- Routine is key
We know that people with dementia are worried about losing their routine. Developing a daily routine will make staying at home easier, as it can help people with dementia know what to expect on a given day and feel less anxious.
With so many things changing on a frequent basis, we recommend putting a regular and manageable schedule in place – if you are living with dementia and find you feel better at certain times of the day, try to arrange activities for then. Also take things one step at a time – try to focus on one thing at a time and break each task down into smaller steps if you need to.