2. Isolation. Perhaps the cruelest aspect of Alzheimer’s is the way it disrupts human relationships. If you’re taking care of someone with dementia, you’ve been told how important it is to get them out into the community and arrange social activities for them. But now social distancing and deliberate isolation are the rules. You may not realize how important small social encounters have been to the person you’re helping to take care of. What is a routine or even a burdensome errand for you might feel more like an outing to them. Your loved one with Alzheimer’s will need you to understand the importance of human contact, no matter how superficial and brief, and to be attentive to making the most of every opportunity—even if it’s just phone calls.
3. Disrupted routines. People with dementia rely very heavily on routines and regularity to help fill in the gaps left by a weakened memory. Pandemic protocols are constantly changing, and as soon as a new routine is put in place, it seems to be replaced by new rules. Your loved one with Alzheimer’s needs you to understand why routines are so important to them, and to be attentive to finding ways to preserve whatever elements of the old routines, no matter how minor, you can. They also need your ingenuity in finding ways to make the new routines feel as normal as possible.
In many ways, this pandemic seems to target and magnify the burdens of dementia, for both those who suffer from it and those who help take care of them. But by the same token, our greatest assets in fighting the effects of dementia are the same: loving understanding and attentiveness in the small matters of everyday living.