COVID-19 has many more implications than simply respiratory symptoms, especially for those in our memory care units. It is difficult for people with dementia to understand why their family is not able to visit, why they can’t sing hymns together in the chapel, or why they can’t sit around a table and eat together. People with dementia thrive with routine, and have had some obstacles adjusting to a new normal. With the anticipation of continued restrictions for several more weeks, the dementia team has discussed how we can best help our residents maintain daily life given all the restrictions.
It is very challenging for someone with dementia to understand why someone is wearing a mask, and it often causes fear or anxiety. Staff now have a small picture of themselves near their name tag so that residents are more easily able to recognize the staff members wearing the mask. People with dementia also rely on lip reading and facial expressions considerably. Resthaven has acquired several white boards so that staff members can draw pictures or write down phrases in order to ease the communication barrier that comes with wearing a mask.
We are continuing to do our best to meet the needs of the whole person including physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual well-being. We continue to provide a program of activities that is intentional and personalized to each resident; however, it looks a bit different. We are meeting one-on-one with residents instead of gathering in groups, focusing on tasks and activities that provide residents with a sense of purpose, and utilizing different ways for residents to engage with their family although they are not able to visit in person.
We understand this time is very difficult for both our residents and their loved ones. We are committed to making the best of this uncertain time while navigating the dementia process with our residents.