Living with dementia is challenging to deal with at the best of times, for the individual and the loved ones around them and COVID-19 is making it even harder.
It is natural to ask whether a person with dementia is at a higher risk of COVID-19 than others. Somebody living with dementia who has confusion or struggles to remember things may have issues with the rules and guidance of COVID-19. This includes social distancing with other people and frequent handwashing to reduce the risk of catching the virus.
People with dementia are ‘vulnerable’ in terms of health but are not ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’. This means individuals who have dementia are able to leave the house to exercise and follow local guidance on who they can and can’t meet whilst strictly sticking to social distancing rules.
Support from a distance
If you are supporting someone who has dementia and lives on their own, they may find it difficult to grasp what is changing with lockdown restrictions, so it is very important to stay in contact with them. You should take time to explain any changes to restrictions and make any information available to them in an accessible and easy to understand way. You should also be alert to any symptoms they may have because somebody living with dementia may have a lack of awareness or may not be able to report any COVID-19 symptoms due to difficulty in communication.
It is important for those with dementia to keep their brain active and with the current restrictions in place, this requires a little more consideration. Technology such as laptops, games, smartphones and tablets offer a range of ways to pass time and keep an individual’s brain with dementia stimulated.
When looking for activities for those with dementia, try to make sure they are activities based on the individual’s preferences and interests. Ideas could be:
- Listening to music
- Going online/using apps
- Playing puzzles/boardgames
- Watching their favourite TV programmes/DVDs
Get support and help
Moving into this second lockdown will be harder for families due to the winter limiting the amount of time people can spend outside with the cold weather and the early nights.
It is just as important for any dementia carers to look after themselves as well as their loved one. It is always a good idea to think about respite care if you are the carer because your rest and mental health is just as important; especially during a national lockdown during a pandemic!
If a loved one with dementia has no support and you are unable to visit them due to lockdown restrictions, it might be a good idea to consider live in dementia care to ensure that your loved one is being taken care of 24/7 by a professional. This will give you peace of mind in knowing that they are at a less risk with COVID-19 and they are getting proper care.