Caring for seniors has proved to have some unique challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. (File photo)

Dementia intensifies loneliness and loss for seniors in pandemic, says caregiver

Seniors care expert says patience and sharing keys to helping those with dementia cope through virus

Living with dementia during a global pandemic isn’t easy.

Luckily, there’s many ways individuals can help seniors battling cognitive decline cope during these difficult times, said Mandi Strickland, client care coordinator for Home Instead.

With Home Instead, Strickland offers live-in care in Port Coquitlam for seniors in their own homes, many of whom have declining cognitive function.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: B.C. seniors offer advice to younger generations

Seniors, especially those battling Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, have been faced with unique and often scary challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Strickland.

An already often isolated demographic, she said seniors have been forced into even deeper isolation as many are vulnerable to suffering fatal complications from the virus.

“Physical distancing is even more necessary with seniors seeing as they are the vulnerable public right now. Isolation can always make you feel lonely and seniors often already had that experience prior to COVID-19,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘I love you – stay away’ says B.C. senior to family this Mother’s Day

Other than the loneliness brought on by not being able to visit with family, Strickland said another big challenge some seniors face arises when they are living with declining cognitive function in a world that has been suddenly turned upside down.

“Someone with a cognition concern might not understand why physical distancing is necessary, so it exacerbates that feeling of loneliness and loss,” she said.

Strickland has had to have numerous challenging conversations with her clients, telling them why they can no longer see their families.

When trying to explain that physical distancing is important to a senior who may not believe it, Strickland said patience is key.

“It’s just about staying calm and using, as we call it, language of dementia or Alzheimer’s’s,” she said.

“So being able to speak to them and using those key words and trigger words, just to make sure that they understand.

“I might have to explain it three times in a two-hour visit but I just stay calm and make sure that I understand they’re just not getting this and it’s scary.

“The unknown if you have Alzheimer’s’s or dementia is a scary way to be, and I think we’re all a little scared in general due to the world and what’s going on right now.”

While these are challenging times for seniors, the following gestures, Strickland said, can go a long way:

  • Get creative with video: Strickland suggests sharing old travel videos or scheduling a Zoom date with the seniors in your life.
  • Keep it classic: Picking up the phone and sharing a story or fun memory can remind seniors that the connection is still there.
  • Go old-school: A hand-written letter can mean a lot more to seniors than a younger person would think.

“Send your grandma a letter and maybe a picture of you guys when you were young at an outing at the lake or something,” said Strickland. “Something to spark that memory, that love.”

READ MORE: Kelowna-based community association helping seniors through pandemic

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusSeniors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Column: One parenting book certainly doesn’t fit all

Like the fingerprints they are born with – each child is different.… Continue reading

Summerland Blossom Youth Ambassador Program to hold coronation

Event will be held by video as a result of COVID-19 precautions

Pooch abandoned at Penticton doggy daycare suffered from oral disease

A fundraiser for Okie held by the BC SPCA surpassed its goal of $1,700

Okanagan sisters-in-law sleep out successful

Kiley Routley and Heidi Routley raise nearly $2,400 and awareness for youth homelessness

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read