Now that we’ve reached one of the milestones of sheltering in place, I know that some restrictions are beginning to be lifted, others are still under stay-at-home orders. None of this is easy, but I’d like to share some of the strategies we employed in the days that my Mama could not get out and about as much due to dementia.
When it first became apparent that my Mama had dementia, I knew there could be some hard times on the journey ahead. Even so, I was determined to bring as much joy as possible along the way in spite of the challenges.
I learned to make room for joy in everyday activities. For example, although Mama’s favorite movie of all time was ‘Sound of Music’, we also discovered that Mama loved slapstick comedy, so I added movies like the ‘Three Stooges’ to her watch list. She would laugh and laugh at their shenanigans and I would laugh along with her – delighting to see her so happy.
What did your loved one enjoy before dementia?
If you are not sure what activities would bring the most joy, try whatever your loved one enjoyed prior to dementia and even add a few activities whenever possible. In our case, music was a big one. We sang, played music on CDs and iPods as well as movies with lots of singing in them (such as The Sound of Music). Another discovery we made was that Mama loved looking at faces. We had a church directory that she would look through over and over trying to emulate some of the smiles and expressions.
Oddly enough, Mama also loved to fold towels. I would bring her a bunch of warm towels from the dryer, and she would hug them for a bit with the most sublime expression on her face. Once they cooled down, she would begin to fold them carefully stacking them in nice little stacks so they wouldn’t topple. I’m sure everyone has different beloved activities, but these were a few of our favorite things.
We can still connect
As difficult as it is to be a caregiver right now, an unexpected blessing seems to be coming out of this season of seclusion. Conversations on coping strategies are taking place by caregivers everywhere as they learn to connect with others using a variety of apps and programs on computers, tablets, and phones. I suspect that many digital friendships will be forged that will last long after this current crisis is over – perhaps some will even be able to meet in person someday.
During this Coronavirus pandemic, you are also facing some unfamiliar challenges, although we all know that the sense of isolation is not necessarily a new feeling. Let me encourage you to listen to the message of hope that is beginning to resound for weary caregivers everywhere: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Even though there may be many challenges ahead in these uncharted waters, let me challenge each one of you to Finish Well by Finding the Joy in the COVID Quarantine.
P.S. As part of AlzAuthors, a community of over 200 authors sharing Alzheimer’s and dementia stories to light the way for others, I was honored to be included in the project of creating videos to bring hope and encouragement to caregivers everywhere during the COVID-19 crisis. https://alzauthors.com/covid-19/
I have included my video in this post.
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Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “FinishingWell: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and tips about doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find joy on your own, unique journey. Find our group on Facebook