Caring for people with dementia during Coronavirus

There is a lot of helpful advice on websites and in the news. Older people and people in later stages of dementia may have weakened immune systems. In this article, one of our Carer Ambassadors who is a carer for two people with dementia, offers guidance on how to adapt this advice to your caring.

Keeping free from infection

Because some people living with dementia may have a sensitivity to water, here are some tips to help keep them free from infection:

The Alzheimer’s Society page of advice: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19

Spending more time together

If day care opportunities and respite are postponed due to an outbreak or the person you care for isn’t feeling well enough to attend, have activities on hand to help pass the time. For example, word puzzles and games, picture albums, music to listen to, special movies to watch, and small tasks to engage in such as folding towels or putting socks together. If friends want to help, ask them to leave new activities at your door or email you quizzes and links.

Introduce chair-based exercise and standing up if you cannot get outside.

You do not have to spend long periods of time occupying the person you care for. Dementia is tiring. Short periods of quality time followed by putting the TV or music on or a book to flick through is fine. You will need breaks!

If the person you care for follows you a lot, it may be a sign that they are feeling insecure. Sticking to routines for getting up, meals and going to bed will help. Add in set times for TV/short activities together to establish new routines for self-isolation. This will help you punctuate the day.

If you are reading or doing a crossword, read bits aloud every now and then. This may help the person you care for be reassured.

Ask friends and family to ring or contact you by social media more often than they usually would. This may help you feel less isolated and have someone to talk to if things get tough.

Check that your contacts and contingency plan is still going to work should you be taken ill.

Helpful websites

New guidance has been developed by the Ideal Programme led by the University of Exeter Medical School, for carers of people with dementia. Carers are increasingly facing increased isolation, lack of respite opportunities and reduced services as a result of COVID-19. Many carers are finding it difficult to explain the current restrictions and enable the person with dementia to remain safe, and are deeply worried about the safety and well-being of their relatives.

The Ideal Project have produced a leaflet which gives practical and self-help tips with five key messages about how people living with dementia can stay well during the coronavirus outbreak, visit: http://www.idealproject.org.uk/covid/

Listen to these Dementia Diaries about how people living with dementia are coping during the Covid-19 lockdown and pick up some useful tips. https://dementiadiaries.org/tag/coronavirus

TIDE (Together in Dementia Everyday) is a website dedicated to promoting the interests of carers of people living with dementia. Current and former carers of all backgrounds and cultures are welcome to share their experiences and use the links for advice and helpful activities: some to inform and some just for fun! https://www.tide.uk.net/about

Useful helplines and webchats

Dementia UK: t: 0800 888 6678 e: helpline@dementiauk.org

Alzheimer’s Society helpline: t: 0300 222 11 22 Talking Point (online community): https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-online-community

Rare Dementias Support: e: contact@raredementiasupport.org

Live better with Dementia (used to be Unforgettable): https://dementia.livebetterwith.com/blogs/advice/coronavirus-and-dementia-care-information-and-advice

Other things to consider

• Make sure you and the person you are caring for are drinking enough liquids and eating good food to help your immune system.
• Ask your GP if you can have larger prescriptions and set up home delivery to cut down the number of times you need to go to the chemist
• Say ‘yes’ to any offers of help. Many communities are offering services.
• Avoid social activities, which includes having family or friends in the house.

If you or the person you care for develops a cough, a temperature, or has difficulty breathing, phone 111.

Tell them that you are a carer/the person has a dementia.

Follow their advice.

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