COVID-19 has disrupted many of our routines, which can be especially hard on persons living with dementia. During this extraordinary period, it’s important to try to keep to a daily routine as much as possible.
As far as possible, you should minimise any changes to your previous routine, especially when it comes to your loved one’s sleeping and waking schedule. This will help to reduce the chances that they feel fatigued during the day, which can add to their stress when dealing with other disruptions to their routine. You should also make sure that your loved one keeps having a balanced diet and drinks enough water so that they are physically well.
Your loved one might wish to go out like they used to, but this should be discouraged, especially during Phase One—You should only be leaving the house for essential services. Should it be necessary to go out for a medical appointment or other unavoidable reasons, make sure that hand-washing is part of the routine upon returning home.
Being stuck inside can be terribly boring. In order to alleviate your loved one’s boredom, try to introduce some activities during the day, which can help reduce instances of irritability or wanting to go out, and even help to enhance sleep quality. Activities like puzzle solving, simple chair exercises, or reminiscence therapy are great choices to keep your loved ones engaged.
If there is a nearby park, you can bring your loved one there for a short walk / exercise. Make these trips at non-peak hours, but avoid going when it’s too hot—you can check the crowd levels in public parks at https://safedistparks.nparks.gov.sg/. When you return from your walk outside, make sure that you and your loved one with dementia wash your hands thoroughly.
Finally, it’s important to enable your loved one to keep in contact with other family members who are living apart, as well as their friends. Try to set aside a regular part of your routine for phone or video calls with this people, so that the social needs of your loved one is met, while also giving them a consistent part of their day that they can look forward to.
For more information, write to [email protected] or call the Dementia Helpline at 6377 0700, Monday to Friday (9am to 6pm).