This past year, families across the globe have been forced to quickly adapt to new routines.
In the United States, 19% of those families include an unpaid family caregiver looking after an older adult with specialized needs.
As a dementia care professional, I’ve heard countless stories from family caregivers of how the pandemic has disrupted their ability to keep their loved ones engaged, happy, and socializing.
Senior centers are closed, church services have moved online, and even quick outings that used to break up the day now come with increased risk.
These firsthand experiences shared by clients and friends have inspired us at Clearday to create new ways to support those who are caring for loved ones at home.
That’s why we’ve launched the first online care community designed to help family caregivers make their loved one’s days at home more healthy, social, and uplifting.
Here are the three biggest challenges family caregivers have shared with us – and a few of the ways our new community, Clearday at Home, is helping to solve them.
Clearday at Home offers fun, engaging activities like arts & crafts
1. Seniors are struggling with isolation and boredom at home
With fewer safe options for getting out of the house, many caregivers tell me that their loved ones are increasingly struggling with feelings of confinement and isolation.
As normal activities get shut down, I’ve heard more and more stories about a parent, sibling, or spouse with memory conditions becoming more bored, anxious, and depressed.
Isolation and inactivity are known to deteriorate mental and physical health. It can lead to depression and studies have shown that it can even shorten lifespan.
One caregiver told me that the loss of a structured routine has caused her mother to lose her sense of time. Now she sleeps all day, is up all night, and isn’t taking her medication properly.
Clearday’s activities promote socialization, friendships, and fun
But with Clearday at Home, caregivers have new ways to keep their loved ones engaged with structured activities and social interaction.
Our Live Activities, like Bingo, encourage socializing with others and provide loved ones with a sense of friendship and belonging.
The community also offers On-Demand Activities, with content like Trivia – perfect for caregivers looking to add cognitive stimulation into their loved one’s routines.
We’re hearing from family caregivers that adding these activities into the day is helping regulate their loved ones’ sleep schedules, meal times, medication times, and bathroom times.
One of our newest members said, “Mom and I rarely have a blue day with so many activities at the tips of our fingers!”
Clearday at Home offers an exercise program designed for seniors
2. Staying home has dramatically reduced physical activity
Another big concern that I hear frequently from family caregivers is the dramatic decline in their loved one’s physical activity and exercise.
Community day care centers and gyms may be closed. A walk in the park or trip to the mall no longer feels worth the risk. There is fear of bringing outside aides into the home that could help.
In a recent conversation with a client, she said: “All my dad wants to do is sleep and watch TV.”
This same concern has been repeated by families all across the country. It’s a major challenge to keep loved ones physically active when there are so many constraints.
Lack of exercise is a serious concern for many older adults because it often speeds the decline of physical health and increases risk of injury.
When older adults aren’t physically active, they quickly lose strength, flexibility, and endurance.
This can make mobility tasks, like getting up from a low seat, much more difficult.
It can even lead to falls, which are the leading cause of fatal injury in people over 65.
Clearday’s exercise and mobility classes keep seniors fit and engaged
To help seniors maintain their physical health, Clearday at Home offers a daily exercise routine with interactive Live Sessions every week.
There’s also a library of convenient On-Demand exercises that can be done anytime.
As a licensed Physical Therapist, I work with our expert team to design specific programs that address the range of fitness and mobility needs in our community.
Now, families will have an always-available set of appealing options for keeping Dad or Grandma physically fit and engaged.
Clearday at Home provides one-on-one support to family caregivers
3. Caregivers are more stressed than ever
As the pandemic drags on and adds to the challenges of caring for an older adult, many caregivers have shared that they’re experiencing increased stress and conflict with the person they’re caring for.
That’s not surprising. With almost no warning, caregivers have had to take on more senior care tasks than before and the other areas of their lives have also faced major changes and challenges.
Now they have even less time for themselves and are feeling frustrated and alone. In many cases, they no longer have the same outlets for respite, relaxation, or emotional support.
One caregiver I work with was clearly struggling with these issues.
Her mother with dementia was becoming more and more frustrated and argumentative as their usual routines fell away and they were spending all day, every day in the same space.
The more stressful the situation became, the more guilt she felt for being upset. They found that one way to cope was to spend some time alone in separate quiet rooms, each watching old movies or the news.
Fortunately, this solution worked for my client, but I know it won’t work for everyone.
We know that self-care and outside support are essential for caregiver health and that the current pandemic has cut off many caregivers from the supports they used to rely on.
Clearday provides extra support to caregivers
That’s why we also designed Clearday at Home to offer a support system to family caregivers.
Our community offers one-on-one consultations with dementia care experts that provide everything from caregiving tips, to strategies for particular challenges, to simple encouragement and understanding.
Our support groups provide a safe place for caregivers to talk about their experiences with others in similar situations.
We also offer a library of educational resources that teach skills that make caregiving easier.
Plus, there are weekly Live Sessions where caregivers can ask questions and get an answer right away.
Get daily support for seniors and caregivers
Our goal with Clearday at Home is to provide a pillar of support to our caregivers and empower them to restore purpose and positivity to their loved one’s days.
With our daily schedule of tailored activities and our comprehensive caregiver resources, we believe that families can lead truly enriching lives from the safety and comfort of home.
If you and your loved one are feeling isolated, bored, and less active – or if your stress levels have been increasing – sign up for a free Clearday membership.
By Christin Hemmens, Clearday at Home
Clearday at Home™ is the first online care community made to support family caregivers and their older loved ones from the comfort of home. With a focus on dementia, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive health, it provides engaging daily activities, as well as support and education for caregivers. Our activities, designed by care experts, promote daily cognitive and physical exercise. For family caregivers, we offer a holistic support system including one-on-one consultations, weekly live events, and an educational library. For more information, visit cleardayathome.com and follow @myclearday on Facebook.