Alzheimer’s Care: Alzheimer’s Foundation Launches COVID-19 Support Group
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has devastated lives throughout the world and the pandemic continues to take a toll on families, especially those who care for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The stay-at-home restrictions, designed to reduce older adults’ exposure to the coronavirus, inadvertently placed additional stress on family caregivers.
To help with the challenges of caring for a family member living with Alzheimer’s disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) recently launched telephone-based support groups for families.
The support groups are free and led by AFA’s licensed social workers.
Purpose of AFA Support Groups
Charles Fuschillo Jr., AFA president, and chief executive officer said support groups are an “excellent way to relieve harmful stress that can contribute to burnout or other health problems for the caregiver.”
According to the AFA, the support groups will help with issues such as families no longer being able to have face-to-face visits with their loved ones in long-term care facilities, and the added family tensions caused by COVID-19.
AFA’s Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted daily schedules, caused social isolation, and anxiety, according to Fuschillo. But, the AFA has tips Alzheimer’s caregivers can follow that may help to reduce COVID-19-related stress:
- Stay positive and flexible. A caregiver’s attitude influences the stress levels for the caregiver and the family member living with Alzheimer’s disease. So, caregivers can focus on constructive ways to adapt to the change in daily routines disrupted by COVID-19. For example, find easy and fun activities to do at home to engage the older adult or call for a meal delivery from a favorite restaurant.
- Deal with what you can control. COVID-19 is out of a caregiver’s control. But, the caregiver can control his or her reaction to the pandemic. Following public health guidelines, establishing a daily routine, getting a good night’s sleep, and prioritizing self-care are all within a caregiver’s control.
- Clear and refresh your mind. Regular exercise, listening to music, practicing yoga, or taking a few deep breaths can help to relax the mind and reduce stress.
- Stay informed, but do not overload on news. A steady diet of listening to the news can increase stress levels. Getting news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other trusted sources while setting a schedule for news updates will help to prevent news overload and reduce stress.
- Talk About Your Stress. Sharing your feelings with someone in a support structure, a professional, or even a stranger can help relieve stress.
Fuschillo said the AFA’s new support groups will give family caregivers a “safe, confidential outlet” to share their concerns and feelings while learning “constructive ways to cope.”
To register for a support group, call the AFA’s Helpline at (866) 232-8484. The AFA Helpline, staffed by licensed social workers trained in dementia care, is open seven days a week.