Honiton Memory Cafe shares tips on staying connected during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:59 01 June 2020

Heather Penwarden

Heather Penwarden

Archant

The chairman of Dementia Friendly Honiton has told of how they have been staying connected through Covid-19.

Heather Penwarden understands it is a tough time for us all and especially tough on our mental wellbeing. She said: “Everyone’s lockdown experience is different, and each of us has had to adapt and face new challenges to get through every day.

“In addition to social media, vital links with the outside world can come in many different forms including down the telephone line, letters through the post, village news sheets, organisation updates, gardening clubs, WI groups, bowling clubs and local newspapers.

“In this world so dominated by social media, it is really important not to forget the more traditional forms of sharing news and keeping connected.”

With the onset of the coronavirus, the decision was made to suspend all of the Honiton Memory Café social activities, leaving many with sudden changes to their routines and the potential to become isolated.

In an attempt to combat the stress placed on their mental wellbeing, Heather and her team of volunteers took to trying to connect with those who were vulnerable.

They made phone and video calls, wrote letters and even managed to celebrate their tenth birthday by delivering cream teas to 88 of their friends and volunteers for them to enjoy in their gardens.

Heather said: “It was a delight to see photos of 88 smiling faces as they received their teas that will go into an album to be shared once we all get together again.

“A huge thanks goes to Lacemakers Café and Tesco Honiton for helping us to make this happen and to Honiton Cub Scouts for hand-making everyone a lovely colourful birthday card.”

One of Heather’s tips on coping with coronavirus-related anxiety is to keep a connection with the outside world.

She said: “Strong family ties and supportive friends and neighbours can help you deal with the stresses of life. In lockdown this has become much harder to do but there are still ways of keeping in touch. You could write a letter, make sure you speak to someone on the phone every day or if you have the means have Facetime contact with someone.”

Heather has also shared her tips on coping with coronavirus-related anxiety:

1. Be kind to yourself and others. We know that kindness is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging. Be kind to others but also be kind to yourself.

2. Keep in touch with the outside world. Strong family ties and supportive friends and neighbours can help you deal with the stresses of life. In lockdown this has become much harder to do but there are still ways of keeping in touch, they are not the same as a hug but you could; write a letter, make sure you speak to someone on the phone every day or if you have the means have Facetime type contact with someone.

3. Try not to obsess over “what if” scenarios and feeling sad and anxious about things that haven’t happened yet. Instead focus on what you can control right now: how can you have a good day today?

4. Bring some structure to your day. As tempting as it might be to stay in pyjamas all day, regular routines are essential for our self-confidence and purpose.

5. If you know someone who is socially isolating and does not have access to the internet why not find a way of keeping them updated on the local news especially all the advice, local contacts for support and the good news stories happening around them. They will certainly benefit and through your act of kindness you will too.


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