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Tips For Caregivers And People Living With Dementia Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Life for many caregivers and those living with dementia is already very isolating. Often, friends and family drift away. But caregiving during the coronavirus pandemic can add an extra layer of stress to an already stressful situation. 

Jan Dougherty is a special projects consultant with the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. She's also the author of the book, "Travel Well With Alzheimer's: Essential Tips To Enjoy The Journey."

Dougherty says in times like these, where there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty, routine is key. 

"Especially for the person living with dementia routine is key, it helps the day moving forward," she says. "I think it helps from a caregivers perspective, just to know how to focus on now and what to do next."

She also suggests keeping the TV off since it can create unwanted anxiety for everyone in the house. Instead, Dougherty recommends taking walks, connecting with family on the phone or using another video chatting app like FaceTime.

Another tip for caregivers, especially: Remember to breathe.

"Just three minutes of sitting quiet, softening and closing your eyes and taking some very deep and purposeful breaths. And just notice how different you feel even after three minutes," she says.

Dougherty has been sharing meditations from Hospice of the Valley with the caregivers she supports.She says these simple techniques can help caregivers manage their own anxiety, which is helpful if you're one of the 346,000 unpaid caregivers in Arizona. 

Hear more about aging on  KJZZ's Hear Arizona podcast series

→  Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease 

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.