How family members with dementia can stay in touch this Easter
If you are affected by dementia, Easter can already be a challenging experience but with all the social distancing measures in place currently, it can put even more pressure on family members.
When your relative with dementia lives with you and your family, the difficulties of communication may still be present. The current lockdown could place further strain on dynamics between family members as they will be spending more time together in the house than usual.
There are also family members who live apart from each other and can no longer visit this weekend due to current government guidelines. Similarly, some family members are having to face being unable to see their relative with dementia in a care home due to visiting restrictions.
These are clearly unprecedented times but there are still ways that families with dementia can adapt and feel connected this Easter.
For people who are living at home with someone with dementia:
Embrace this time together and see it as an opportunity to reminisce across generations with your relative who has dementia. Photo albums can be a great source of stimulation for people with dementia, and can help grandchildren to feel connected to their grandparents too as well as strengthen family bonds more widely
Even when spending time with family, we can feel isolated. This is why it’s so important to include the person with dementia or family carers who are feeling particularly strained as much as possible. For the person with dementia, tailor what they do to their abilities, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Talk to them about favourite memories, watch a favourite family film together or listen to a favourite song to stimulate conversation, make them feel included by getting them to help out with the preparation of hot cross buns. Equally, if someone needs to take some time for themselves, respect that.
If you need supplies or need to pick up medication, try to limit the times you go out, as well as the number of people in the family who go outside to pick up supplies. It should really be no more than one person. You can ask a trusted neighbour or a friend if they can pick up some items for you; this is particularly important to do if your relative is living with other conditions alongside dementia, which make them especially vulnerable. No one in the family should feel as though they’re taking too much on. If you feel you need extra support, don’t be afraid to ask
People can feel cooped up at this time so you may consider setting up different areas of the house where you can take part in different activities; a room where you can work on jigsaw puzzles, a place you can do aerobic exercises and a garden if possible to get some fresh air.
For people who are living apart from their relative with dementia
Many families are now using video chats like Zoom and What’s App to stay in touch and check in with relatives from a distance. There’s no reason why family traditions or celebrations cannot continue with these chats – adaptability is key. Why not try having dinner together over Skype? Or sing a favourite song together to encourage connection?
Some museums are also offering virtual tours as well as theatres streaming plays, which can be a great source of entertainment and stimulation
If a family member with dementia is struggling to use technology, you may prefer to give them a call. It may be preferable to do this at regular times of the day which can enable routine for the person as well as give them something to look forward to
However some people with dementia may not have easy access to technology, and may be living on their own or in a care home which is not able to offer video calls. These scenarios can increase feelings of isolation. In these instances, you may like to send something through the post to give the person with dementia something tangible to hold on to. This can be anything from a simple letter to a personalised book including photos and messages from other members of the family.
If you have any challenges over the Easter Weekend, our Helpline Admiral Nurses are here to support you. You can contact them on 0800 888 6678 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s important to follow the government’s guidance around coronavirus. You can review all the updates through this link here.
You can also see Dementia UK’s online coronavirus hub for further advice and support here.