Maintaining an FTD Care Routine During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Individuals and families already dealing with the stress of FTD now face even greater uncertainty and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. While social distancing has been mandated to help contain the virus, the resulting restrictions can leave fewer options for resources and support.
If you are living in house-bound conditions, it can be especially helpful to incorporate individualized activities, tailored to personal interests, to benefit and comfort everyone in the home. The following tips can help you to incorporate meaningful activities into a daily routine:
- Identify and tailor activities based on personal interests, experience, and abilities. Look for activities that are stimulating, but are not so difficult as to cause frustration or discouragement. Try a simple board game, card game, puzzle, or word search. You can adapt the rules as needed. Many simple games and puzzles are also accessible online.
- Try creative activities. You may try simple arts and crafts projects, a daily singalong, or a listening session with favorite music. Determine when to engage in a particular activity, how to set it up, how to simplify steps to complete it, and how ensure it can be done safely.
- Try to establish a regular schedule. Losing an established routine can be difficult for both the person diagnosed and for care partners. Identifying home activities that are familiar, enjoyable and meaningful for both of you — and then incorporating them at predictable points in the day — can help to create a sustainable routine. Repetitive activities — noted below — may be easiest.
- Find ways that everyone can contribute. Repetitive activities, such as cleaning, folding laundry, dusting, sweeping, or watering flowers can help to provide an element of positive engagement and channel compulsive behaviors. In some cases, social isolation may allow more time for activities like meal preparation, or tending to other household chores, in ways that will open up space and time for more conscious incorporation of the person with FTD.
- Simplify the home environment. Modify the home environment as needed to help the person diagnosed in performing their daily routine. Remove unnecessary objects and materials from activity spaces, adjust the lighting, and limit distractions.
- Take a regular walk. Going for a regular walk outdoors can provide fresh air and a short break from self-isolation, as long as the person diagnosed is able to understand and safely practice social distancing.
- Exercise grace and patience. This can be a stressful time for everyone. Care partners should seek to exercise grace and patience instead of arguing that something is being done too slowly or incorrectly. What is most important is that the person diagnosed is engaged in the activity and feeling positive.
- Use positive communication techniques. Care partners can help to initiate activities and give support until the person diagnosed is engaged; use short, one-step-at-a-time directions; and provide daily encouragement and reassurance at signs of stress.
For further guidance on the importance of individualized activities in FTD care, read our Summer 2016 issue of Partners in FTD Care; the “What to Do About…” section (p. 6-7) offers guidance that may be of particular interest at this time.
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