I cannot believe that this time one year ago I was seeing patients in my dementia clinic, completely unaware of the changes about to happen because of Covid-19.
Last March through May is a blur. I had to suddenly learn how to use telemedicine platforms. And so did my family caregivers. The learning curve was a vertical line. I felt like a combo of a clinician and a member of the Geek Squad. I worried about the effect of sudden isolation on people living with dementia and their care partners. I tried to do some FaceBook Live videos to help.
At first, working from home sounded great (I will save 2 hours a day not commuting!) And then I learned the price. My work life became one continuous Zoom meeting. Not only did I have to swap in-person meetings with Zoom meetings (no biggie), but now I had meetings about meetings! I had to redo classes. I had to learn how to precept medical and nursing students in the “virtual” clinic by adding them to the telemedicine platforms. I felt like I was swimming in jello: I was putting in a lot of time and energy but going nowhere.
I soon realized how much I accomplished with elevator conversations and quick stops in offices. All of this informal conversation now had to be formalized, scheduled on Outlook, and followed by a Zoom invite. I also watched some people living with dementia rapidly decline because they could no longer attend respite or go to the gym. My work in nursing homes slammed to a halt as these facilities went into lock down. I had to come up with ways to offer the same level of support but via a smart phone or tablet.
My blogging also stopped. Not because I didn’t have ideas. But because other parts of my work life demanded a lot more energy and time. To all of my followers, I apologize. On the bright side, I’ve written and submitted 4 studies that could improve the lives of people living with dementia and their care partners. One was not funded, one is being funded, and I’m waiting to hear about the other two. Fingers crossed!
My goal for this blog is 2 new posts a month. I’m also open to topics. If any of you have a topic you would like to see covered, just let me know.
Thanks for reading my blogs, and sharing!!
Dr. Rita Jablonski
Rita Jablonski, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FGSA is a nurse practitioner, researcher, tenured professor, and former family caregiver. Her research and practice involve all aspects of dementia management; she is best known for non-drug strategies to address dementia-related behaviors.