Dementia describes a group of cognitive and behavioral symptoms that develop as a result of a decline in brain function. Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults also have an increased risk for severe complications from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The CDC state that adults 65 years and older account for 80% of deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States.
In this article, we discuss how to care for someone with dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.
Challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic
Current preventive measures against the novel coronavirus, such as physical distancing, may present significant challenges for people with dementia because they often rely on in-person health services and social support from family members and friends.
A person with dementia may not understand the COVID-19 pandemic or its implications.
Many caregivers, who typically rely on regular visits from family members and friends, may find themselves taking on more responsibilities without help or breaks.
As a result, people acting as the sole caregiver may experience emotional and physical fatigue.
The challenges that stem from dementia vary depending on the type and severity of a person’s condition.
Alzheimer’s disease affects regions of the brain that play a role in memory formation.
People living with Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty remembering recent events or performing daily tasks, such as washing their hands.
Lewy body dementia
People who have Lewy body dementia or Parkinson’s disease may exhibit progressive memory loss, mood changes, and language impairment.
They may have difficulty communicating their needs or concerns to caregivers.
Frontotemporal dementia, previously known as Pick’s disease, involves symptoms that relate either to changes in behavior or language difficulties.
People with frontotemporal dementia may exhibit impulsive or inappropriate social behavior. As a result, they may neglect physical distancing, hand hygiene, and other recommendations from their caregivers and local health authorities.
A caregiver can use the following tips to help care for someone with dementia.
Plan for gaps in care
Caregivers may need to take on more caregiving responsibilities if in-home health aids or other family members cannot come by as frequently.
They can prepare for unexpected gaps in care by first making a list of essential supplies, such as medication, personal hygiene products, and food.
It is a good idea to stock up on nonperishable, essential supplies.
Create a daily routine
It may be beneficial to establish a consistent daily routine that includes the following activities:
- waking up and going to sleep at set times
- bathing, getting dressed, and…