January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month and to commemorate this the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward Island is teaming up with colleagues across Canada for #ConnectionsMatter.
Each year we join our colleagues to launch a campaign to raise awareness for the 2,700 Islanders and over 564,000 Canadians who are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Now, more than ever, connections really do matter for people living with dementia and their care partners, as COVID has had a significant impact on how we connect. What’s important is that we physically distance but not socially isolate. No one should have to face this disease alone. That’s why this year, the Alzheimer Society is focusing on #ConnectionsMatter.
A key element of the campaign includes looking at creative ways to stay connected to reduce social isolation for persons living with dementia and their care partners, a group of individuals already at an increased risk of isolation.
We need to come together to help Islanders living with dementia. Building connections that matter are the heart and soul of the Alzheimer Society.
Tips for #ConnectionsMatter
The current situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) presents some unique challenges for people living with dementia and their care partners and families. Social distancing, self-isolation and the associated changes in routine can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety and confusion for people with dementia, and can even make the person’s dementia symptoms worse.
To help navigate these challenges, we’ve compiled some helpful tips:
Tips for people with dementia who live alone
- Have a plan for what you will do if you become unwell. Make a list of important phone numbers that you can reference if you get sick. Include the phone number for your local public health unit. Make sure that this information is prominently displayed somewhere and easy for you to find in the event that you become ill.
- Be Ready for an Emergency Department Visit. Alzheimer Society of Canada.
- Ensure you have adequate supplies. Make sure you have enough household supplies and medications on hand for two weeks. There is no need to stockpile supplies or medications—a two-week supply is sufficient.
- Practice physical distancing, but not social isolation. Leverage technology to keep in touch with family and friends, whether it be by phone, email, video call or social media.
- As much as possible, try to maintain your routine. Remain active, physically and mentally.
- Have a plan for visitors. If you receive in-home support services, such as personal care, cleaning or meal delivery, have hand sanitizer available for everyone to use before and after the visit.
- Reach out for support. If you have questions or need support, contact us. We’re here to help.
Tips for care partners and family members
As a care partner, it’s important to have a plan in the event that you become ill or need to self-quarantine. Here are some things you can do right away to make sure you are prepared:
- Expand your circle of care. Ask family members, friends or neighbours if they can step in if you are unable to continue caring for the person due to illness or quarantine.
- Document instructions for care. Provide detailed information for the person coming in to provide care to make it very clear what needs to be done. Our All About Me booklet is a great tool for recording this information.
- Make a list any medications the person is taking, including dose and frequency.
- Make a list of doctors, clinics and pharmacies and their contact information.
- Include our number in case they have questions or need help.
- Ensure the person has adequate supplies. Make sure there are enough household supplies and medications on hand for two weeks. There is no need to stockpile supplies or medications—a two-week supply is sufficient.
- Leverage technology. Explore what technology might be used if you can’t be there in person. Technology can help mitigate feelings of isolation and help everyone stay connected despite social distancing protocols. Reach out to us if you need help introducing new technologies.
- Maintain a routine. Changes in routine can cause confusion and stress for people with dementia, so it’s important to try and maintain their regular routine as much as possible.
- Have a plan for visitors. If the person receives in-home support services, such as home care, cleaning or meal delivery, have hand sanitizer available for everyone to use before and after the visit.
- Take care of yourself. Your health is important, too. Do not ignore it. Contact us if you have questions or need support. We’re here to help.
Tips for the public
We encourage everyone to check in on the care partners in your community and social circles. Ask if they need help and offer to run errands. Simple gestures such as this can make a big difference for individuals and families facing dementia, who already experience higher levels of social isolation and loneliness at the best of times. It’s important that we all be there for them during this difficult period.
How can Islanders help make a difference in their community for those living with dementia?
We believe it starts with education – learning leads to understanding.
There are a lot of little things that you can do to help make a difference for those affected by dementia. Some of these things include:
- Reach out to friends, family or community members who may be living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia and call them, or have a virtual visit.
- Don’t be afraid of people with dementia. Just be a friend to them.
- Remember that an individual with dementia is still the same person they always were. Be patient and keep an open mind.
- Communicate clearly and calmly – connect, don’t correct.
- Don’t make assumptions about what a person can do – ask them!
- Focus on what people with dementia can do instead of what they can’t.
- Create accessible, inclusive community spaces.
- Have empathy for those living with dementia and see life from their perspective
- If you notice someone struggling, be patient and offer help.
- Most importantly - educate yourself and encourage others to do the same. Share your knowledge and lived experiences with others.
How Islanders can participate in this campaign
One of our greatest opportunities for Islanders to learn more about dementia is our 9th Annual Alzheimer Awareness Conference happening on January 28, 2021, from 10:00am – 12:00pm, via Zoom. This is an annual event designed to provide meaningful learning opportunities for health care, family care partners, and the general public.