Caring For Someone With Dementia During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic creates extra challenges for caring for someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Not only are loved ones more vulnerable,  but there is the added worry that the carer themselves may get ill.  Also, people can become more isolated because bringing anyone into the home increases the risk of spreading COVID-19.  Read on to find out best practice in caring for people with dementia during the Covid pandemic.

COVID-19 Risks Are Not Remembered

People with dementia are vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic because they may not understand the risks or understand/remember how to mitigate these risks.  We take for granted the hygiene and social distancing protocols, but we have to expect that people with dementia may:

  • Be anxious by the major changes around them
  • Not understand fully the importance of hand hygiene
  • Forget to wash their hands
  • Not understand the importance of self-isolation
  • Be fearful to see people wearing masks & not want to wear one

 

How To Handle the Challenge of Dementia During Covid

Routine

Maintain the routine as much as possible – people with dementia depend on routine and feel anxious without it.  Keep regular exercise as part of the routine.

Hygiene

  • Handwashing – show them what to do with a tune to go with it.  Repeat by washing together and do this regularly to get the behaviour to sink in and become routine.  Visual Images or written reminders can help with this.
  • Hand sanitiser – leave these around the house with a sign with them to remind them to use them regularly

Coughing & Sneeze Etiquette

Tissues should be left about the place with a visual which shows to bin it straight away afterwards.  The HSE have hygiene campaigns on-line with various posters to help with this.

Limit Visitors &  Social Distancing

Get up to speed on Zoom and video call with as many people as you can including support organisations to keep up contact.

Keep calm

For yourself and for them maintain a relaxed environment.  You need to keep up your own mental and emotional health during all of this.

Signs of Illness

Increased confusion is often the first symptom of any illness. If the person with dementia shows rapidly increased confusion, contact your health care provider for advice.  A call to the GP – unless there is difficulty breathing or very high fever which should be considered an emergency requiring immediate attention.

 

Practical Things You Can Help With

  • Ensure they have enough soap/tissues/disinfectant wipes
  • Organising the shopping to be delivered
  • Ask GP/chemist about filling prescriptions for a greater number of days to reduce trips out
  • Make a plan in advance for Back-Up in the event the main carer gets ill

 

Keeping Busy

It’s very important that people have something to keep them busy and distracted if usual Day Care services are unavailable to them.

  • On-line activities – YouTube, Zoom Calls
  • Reading – Make sure there’s enough books, papers and magazines in the house
  • Find a new radio show that they could look forward to listening to everyday
  • If they like crafts knitting or crocheting – make sure materials are in.
  • Looking through old photos is enjoyable and these can be arranged in photo albums
  • Encourage them to go for a walk with you to a safe area, or even in the garden for fresh air
  • If the weather is bad try Chair Exercises together

If you have Home Care Support

  • Ask your provider to explain their COVID-19 protocols to reduce the spread of the illness
  • Check & remind the carer to wash hands upon arrival and regularly throughout their time in your home
  • Check carers are wearing correct PPE including masks

If you are interested in putting in place additional care support we have a Dementia experienced team who can advise you in the right direction.  For more information and other support agencies, this information sheet from Tallaght University Hospital is a good visual resource.

 

 

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