CHARLESTON — The Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter offers three pieces of advice to help you stay in touch with a friend or family member in a care home during the coronavirus crisis.
"In many ways, staying connected with friends and family members in 2020 is easier than ever. Social media, instant messages and texting can put us in touch with someone immediately, no matter where they actually are at the time. However, staying connected with loved ones has become a little more difficult lately due to social distancing, and it is even more challenging when a loved one or family member lives with Alzheimer's or dementia in a long-term care facility," a spokesperson said.
First, stay connected to your loved through staying in contact with care facility staff members.
"Make sure you know their procedures for how they are managing the COVID-19 risk," said Teresa Morris, Alzheimer's Association WV Chapter Program Director. "Make sure they have your emergency contact information and the information of another family member or friend as a backup."
Some facilities allow residents to speak with their family members by phone while standing or sitting outside the windows of those care facilities. Some facilities assist residents in “face-time” talks with their loved ones.
"It’s a good time to send gifts like a photo album, scrapbook, an electronic photo frames with pictures that change, cozy slippers, puzzles, games, calendars that are personalized, or their favorite flowers," said Morris.
The second thing is to be an advocate. Make sure your loved one’s advance healthcare directive is in order and up to date so healthcare providers have guidance on decisions the patient and/or the family have discussed.
The final thing to be aware of is to take care of yourself. Your stress level and mood can be picked up on by your family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia and affect their moods as well.
"Just because a person has dementia, doesn’t mean they won’t pick up the emotional signals of people they are talking with and that are around them," said Morris. "If you're not taking care of yourself, or you’re showing that you are overly stressed, that can influence the emotional state of your loved one."
To find more information about Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, or if you are someone with a long-term care facility looking for ways to better assist patients with Alzheimer's or dementia call the WV Chapter at (304) 343-2717 or go to www.alz.org/wv.