We know that some people caring for a family member or friend with dementia are feeling more isolated and alone than ever before. We want you to know that we are in this together and are still working hard to continue to support you.
In this blog, our Ambassador, Heather offers her advice for those caring for someone with dementia during lockdown.
- Be kind to yourself
It’s really difficult being a carer at the best of times and now that you’re stuck in the house, possibly on your own, with the person you care for, it is going to be even more difficult for you. So, don’t try to perfect because I don’t think any of us can be. We all have faults and different personality traits. Some of us have lots of patience and some of us haven’t. You have to realise that you are doing the best you can. If you do lose your patience or get frustrated, then don’t beat yourself up about it. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break if you can. I know that’s difficult, but sometimes just stepping outside the room and taking a few deep breaths or getting out in the fresh air and putting a smile on your face is enough. I can assure you that if you smile, it affects your whole body, and you will not keep feeling as bad as you do. Sometimes, if you smile hard enough it can even make you giggle. I know that sounds silly, but it does work. If all else fails, go outside the room for a couple of minutes and give yourself some space.
- Accept help when it’s offered
During the pandemic, we’ve seen communities pulling together to help each other by picking up the shopping and running errands for neighbours who are shielding. If you don’t need shopping, get in touch with your neighbours and say you’d like a five-minute phone call every couple of days instead, because having regular contact with the outside world can make all the difference. Those neighbours are desperate to help in this situation and asking them to do something for you will help them feel they are doing something useful.
My daughters often say to me, “Mum, we know you can do it, but you don’t have to. Let us help you.” I think that’s good advice for everyone. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to carry on and do it all yourself. If you’re offered help, then my advice is to take it.
My final piece of advice is one that might make you laugh. Where I worked years ago, I had a colleague that always signed his emails AWCP. I finally built up the courage to ask him what the initials stood for and he said, “It stands for ‘always wear comfortable pants’” I’m going to leave you with that because I think it’s just as important as all the others. If you’ve got your comfy pants on, you can cope much better than if you haven’t. So, take care, keep safe and look after each other.
We’re here to support family members and friends caring for someone with dementia, regardless of public health restrictions. To access advice and support please visit our Virtual Carers Centre or book a free place on one of our upcoming Live Online Learning sessions.