As steady as our environment can seem at times, factors beyond our control have the potential to rapidly change the world around us. The current COVID-19 situation, natural disasters and everyday events like an unexpected illness or need for relocation can be stressful, exhausting and can dramatically change our behaviour.
These changes may be felt even more heavily by Lumby Valley and other Okanagan residents living with dementia, and their caregivers. This September, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is offering a free webinar on strategies for adapting to rapidly changing circumstances for people living with dementia and caregivers.
The ability of a person living with dementia to cope with rapid change can be greatly affected by physiological changes to the brain that result in changes to memory, communication skills, and personality. Knowing how to work together while respecting the individuality of people living with dementia is crucial to successfully navigating rapidly changing circumstances.
Behaviours have a reason
When a person living with dementia acts in a way that may appear strange or out of the ordinary, they are often doing so to communicate a need or to meet a need. For example, pacing can indicate a need to get outside and walk, while also being a way to expend energy. Understanding why a behaviour is occurring can help you to strategize ways to respond and meet the needs of the person.
Take time to reduce stress
Being the care partner of a person living with dementia can be stressful and at times, all-consuming. Take time to de-stress and enjoy yourself. Meeting your own needs is crucial to being able to fulfill this responsibility.
Though being aware of current events is critical to our ability to respond to rapidly changing circumstances, obsessing over the news can be anxiety-producing and detrimental to our response to these circumstances. Limit time spent absorbing worrying information.
To learn more about adapting to caregiving and living with dementia in a rapidly changing environment, you can participate in the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s upcoming webinar on Responsive behaviours in a changing environment. It runs on Wednesday, September 23 at 2 p.m.
Other upcoming webinars include:
Activities to do at home (Wednesday, September 9, 2 p.m.): The benefits of meaningful home-based activities for families affected by dementia.
Prepare for tomorrow: health-care, legal and financial plans (Wednesday, September 16, 2 p.m.): Plan now, before dementia affects the ability to communicate. Learn how to begin early legal, health-care and financial planning to prepare for your future. For caregivers and people living with dementia.
Responsive behaviours in a changing environment (Wednesday, September 23, 2 p.m.): Learn how to adapt strategies to rapidly changing circumstances for people affected by dementia.
Accessing services during COVID-19 (Wednesday, September 30, 2 p.m.): Learn strategies for navigating changes in accessing services and how to get the most out of your interactions with care providers.
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is here to help
During this time of increased isolation, many people affected by dementia have felt disconnected from their usual support networks and have faced unexpected challenges. The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is available to help anyone living in British Columbia affected by dementia. Anyone with concerns or questions related to dementia can call the First Link® Dementia Helpline, which is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information and support is also available in Punjabi (1-833-674-5003) and in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007), available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
While many of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s in-person activities have been suspended, reduced or adapted due to physical distancing protocols, the Society understands that connection is more important than ever. In addition to extending the English Helpline hours to 8 p.m., the Society has increased the frequency of its dementia education webinars, established regular check in calls with caregivers, and made tele-support groups available across the province. For more information, visit the Alzheimer Society of B.C. website (alzheimerbc.org).