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Pandemic presents challenges in memory care

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:06 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - When taking care of a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s, maintaining a normal routine is important to keep them calm. During the pandemic it can be difficult to do so.

Residents at Edgewood Vista in Hastings have had to adjust to the change. The facility leaders have been coming up with projects to keep them busy while they adjust to the different way of doing things.

Due to social distancing, many of the residents have to stay in their rooms. The craft time is limited to only two people at a time. In the mornings they go for walks around the courtyard. At meal time there can be some confusion on why they can't eat as a group like before.

“Some of them don’t understand why they can’t come out to the table and why we’re eating in our rooms. [They] don’t understand why they can’t go sit next to their friend,” Assistant Executive Director Kathy Nelson said.

“They see each other as all being friends,” Executive Director Terri Coe said.

They said many of the residents understand there is a virus that could affect them because they’ve read about it or watched the news. But understanding the changes is hard for others.

No visitors are allowed so family members have had to stand outside the window and talk through the phone.

“Well it weighs heavy on your heart to know that they aren’t getting to visit that loved one. But we’re doing lots of phone calls and some of the girls will do Facetime in the rooms with the residents. So they’re still getting to see them but it’s still not the same,” Nelson said.

Some residents ask when they can visit someone or go outside and they have to remind them why they can’t or find some way to keep them preoccupied. Only recently have they been able to take residents for short drives, one at a time. This has already had a great impact on those who can go.

“Our one little lady would go out quite a bit and she would go for a ride with her mom to get ice cream cones and when she’s had some rough days and is tearful and anxious we tell her we’re going to go get ice cream cones. It’s just like instantly she’s happy and no more crying,” Coe said.

They also have had to pause their adult daycare. They try to offer advice to families caring for their loved ones at home. Edgewood hopes to open up again with precaution to help residents feel more at ease. Coe said they are applying for the next phase of reopening their facility to allow family members to come back inside with various restrictions such as temperature checks and wearing PPE.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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