COVID-19 or not, spring reappears each year. And while loved ones with dementia may not be outside when spring begins March 21, it won’t be long before the vaccinations allow more socialization and we will take to the outdoors to see our friends once again.
With that in mind, some spring tips are worth thinking about.
1. Allergies: With the blooming of flowers and trees, allergies to pollens, dust and, mold begin to take hold and immune systems begin to attack the allergens. Our loved ones begin wheezing, itching, have a runny nose, or perhaps watery or itchy eyes more than normal. Be sure prescriptions for their allergies are updated and that you can locate them when necessary for the comfort of loved ones.
2. Bees and Bugs: Spring flowers need bees and wasps to pollenate so we can enjoy their beauty. But bees can cause harm to a loved one who is allergic to a bee sting. With reduced eyesight and loss of hearing, elderly are at increased risk of being stung when bees are around. Prepare to watch for bees and bugs when loved ones are outside. Keep medications where you can easily find them.
3. Daylight savings time: Many people have adverse reactions to the changing of the clocks. Be alert to any changes in behaviours loved ones might display. It could be related to the recent change in time.
4. Falling: Spring rains bring flowers, but the also bring slippery surfaces. Be aware of the shoes loved ones wear. Slipping on slick, wet surfaces or stumbling in puddles can cause a fall with serious impact on the body. In addition to slippery, wet surfaces, uneven ground, as a field or gravel driveway, may present a perilous situation if someone is not nearby to prevent stumbles and falls. Keep an eye on the loved one while they walk, as well as looking for obstacles in their walking path.
5. Wandering: The sunshine of spring entices us all to go outside. Loved ones want to get out of their room, and sometimes the lure of the outdoors beckons them to leave their room and perhaps even their apartment, their home, or their senior residence, unnoticed. Wandering is a serious issue for those with memory loss, whether in sunny or stormy weather. The loved one can lose orientation, or completely lose their way. Some loved ones might be blinded by bright sunlight, or be unable to relate to time, and become easily confused. Spring means keeping a close eye on our loved ones so they don’t get lost to us.
6. And for caregivers who are aging right along with their loved ones, their own needs and considerations should not be ignored. The same allergies might arise, the same precautions need to be taken as with loved ones. Since it is possible no one will ‘keep an eye on the caregiver,’ it is important caregivers get help and are rested so that during the period when they do care for their loved ones they can feel up to it.
In all cases the intention is to enjoy the beauty of the world surrounding us, the sunshine and the rain, the flowers and the insects. . We just need to add a bit more precautionary action when we all expand our world and step outdoors as caregivers and loved ones. Remember to look for the crocus and daffodils and eventually smell the roses!
Six Caregiver Considerations for Spring (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone