Keeping Brains and Bodies Active During COVID-19

This is a special episode, relevant to the current COVID-19 health crisis and social isolation we are experiencing all over the world right now. It’s been challenging for every one, but certainly for those of us at home supporting friends or family with an illness, disability, or aging related needs. Which just so happens to be the mission of Caregivers Alberta, the non-profit organization that I work for daily. Caregivers Alberta exists to empower caregivers and promote their well-being through support, information, education, and leadership. Find out about the ongoing programs and support we are offering, which includes special at-home day programming, through the program and event calendar here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional stress and task management challenges upon family and friends who are supporting and/or caring for persons living with dementia at home in their chosen community. Today’s episode is all about finding solutions to these very present challenges, and it’s going to hit a little bit of everything! We are going to talk about ways to engage in therapeutic activities in an at-home setting. We’re going to chat about Tusk, which if you’re a loyal listener of Life With Dementia, you’ve already heard about. Tusk, the care navigation tool, is another wonderful solution for what’s happening in our current climate. It’s is a platform that matches people living with dementia and caregivers with the right resources, at the right time, to avoid crisis points; and helps caregivers monitor their own wellbeing in the process. The goal is to help caregivers and care recipients manage daily tasks and challenges while reducing overall stress. 

Our guest is Teri Kennedy-Flyn, someone who is currently finding creative ways to engage residents living in the communal, independent-living setting of a lodge during these times of extra health precautions and restrictions in place. She’s got tips that can help listeners at home all over the world, and to that note, you’ll see that this blog post today is packed FULL of hyperlinks to resources and programs that can be accessed online, from your home-setting. Catch the full audio version of this interview above; or just read the summarized action tips below; but you’d be missing out on the “golden nuggets”… let me tell you. 😉

ACTION STEPS

  1. First, I’m going to continue to add to the activity ideas that Teri already shared. She emailed me after our conversation and sent lots of good resources and hyperlinks. But here’s a few more:
    • How about Gardening inside? Nurturing and taking care of other living things and watching them grow can be incredibly rewarding. Sprout some seeds in a sunny window inside, that you can then transfer outside once frost is over!
    • Or what about Writing a letter. When was the last time you actually wrote a letter with pen (or pencil) and paper? That used to be the only way to stay in contact with friends and family. Now of course, we have a million different options using technology. But writing a letter is a very familiar task for many generations. I remember writing pen pal letters in grade school and getting so excited for when the mail came! A bonus to this task is that For individuals with dementia, who may struggle to adopt new processes, writing a letter is the perfect activity! 
  2. Our second tip shared in this interview was about the challenge of learning new processes. If you’re personally battling cognitive loss, or live with someone who is, the best way to learn something new is to do it slowly, and in a way that will make it most comfortable. Teri gave a great example of how to break a new process down into steps (also known as task segmentation). Helping Someone Learn How To Do Video Calling:
    • Step 1: Use a cell phone or tablet to make a normal “non-video” call, to get used to talking via speaker phone NOT with a phone in your hand.
    • Step 2: Watch some videos on the phone or tablet, so you experience what it’s like to watch video in real-time.
    • Step 3: Working up to a Skype call, integrating the previous 2 steps
  3. The last big action step I’ll throw out there today is all about enjoying these precious and unique times you’re in. Take advantage of the fact that time has essentially slowed down; business is NOT “as usual”; and we can dabble in old or new hobbies; reconnect with family and friends; or reconnect with ourselves for that matter. Give yourself some love and soak it up. And as you’re reflecting on the positives in this situation, also think about those who are hurting and challenged by all these changes. Those who are sick; those who are taking care of the sick; those who have lost jobs; those who have lost loved ones. Start with that love inside of yourself and then send a little extra love and light outward today. I think we all could use it. 

Thanks for joining us on Life With Dementia, the solution-driven podcast sharing resources and support for living well with dementia.

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SHOW NOTES:

Join the online Caregivers Alberta program Well-Connected: an at-home day program in collaboration with Eldercare Edmonton.

For more info on Tusk, The Care Navigation Tool.

Check out Dementia Advocacy Canada

Activity Resources and Links:

Podcast episode music by Blue Dot Sessions “OneEightFour”

Blog Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash