Karen Weede first noticed changes to her memory when she began having difficulty articulating thoughts in conversations. In 2017, Karen became more alarmed when the routine task of putting gas into her car proved difficult. She sought to find answers. Today, at age 73, Karen is living with early-stage Alzheimer’s.
As a member of the 2019-2020
Alzheimer’s Association National Early-Stage Advisory Group
, Karen encourages others to enjoy life, no matter the circumstances: “Wake up every day thankful that you can still love and laugh and live.” Here are some of her tips for living your best life as people continue to shelter in place during the COVID-19 crisis:
Listen to the Beat
Music has been proven to be an amazing form of therapy for me
. It does wonderful things: It helps lift your mood when you have energy to spare, and can help calm you in times of crisis. When I put on music, I dance. The music that gets me dancing around my kitchen is usually “Earth, Wind, and Fire,” “The Eagles” and “Fleetwood Mac” songs from the 1970s.
Engage in Exercise
Keeping active is always important
, but especially in our current world. I recently started walking three miles a day. If I run into anyone, we will talk at a distance and move apart. I am a really social person, so it helps to get out to talk to anyone at all, even if we are wearing masks! If you are not used to exercise, start small. Take a short walk around your neighborhood. Many websites have free low-impact workout videos you can do from home, too! My local YMCA has online classes that are currently free to members, as gyms have closed during COVID-19.
Work on Your Attitude
I am always working on how I see the world. I focus my awareness on the present moment, acknowledging my thoughts and feelings. If you are feeling anxious, search for YouTube videos that guide you in short (or long!) meditation. Just search “guided meditation” on YouTube, and find helpful videos between one minute and 30 minutes long. Close your eyes, relax and practice being mindful.
Read the Good News
Don't focus on news about the virus. While my husband Jim and I keep up with neutral news to stay in the know, we have found that constant watching, reading or listening to the news can be too much for us. Know what you are able to handle, and turn off the news if it makes you anxious. Find sources of news that keep you both informed and hopeful.
Find and focus on the little things that you are thankful for. It can be as simple as looking out the window at the trees and blooming flowers. Do what makes you happy. I still love to cook!
If you need to grieve during this time for the losses we have all experienced – whether that is being unable to see family, missing social engagements, trips or other events – you should feel comfortable doing so. We all need to grieve the circumstances in our own time in order to move on and keep our spirits up.
Laughter is wonderful; it truly is magical. I have my favorite TV shows that guarantee a laugh: “The Neighborhood,” “Mom,” “Little Sheldon” … I always loved “The Big Bang Theory.” I love reruns of “Modern Family.” Jim and I are big fans of Mel Brooks, too. And I read the comic strips every day!