The 2019 Novel Coronavirus also referred to as “COVID-19” has created unexpected changes in the lives of people across the world with a major impact on elderly people, particularly those with dementia. This sudden change has necessitated the need to make changes to our daily routine particularly because there is currently no approved and widely available vaccine to prevent the disease. This makes it difficult for people with dementia, especially with the added stress it creates for them and their caregivers. The following guidelines will need to be observed by persons caring for people with dementia:
Assist with drinking and eating
The risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus is very high as such it is important for persons living with dementia to be given full attention at all times. The best way to prevent contracting the virus is by avoiding being exposed to the virus. There is a need to assist people with dementia with eating and personal hygiene. Also, it is essential to limit the number of people who come close to them. Caregivers need to aid them in cleaning their hands often and
covering their mouth and face with face cover (mask) when around others. Sitting and talking with the person with dementia during mealtimes may improve their food intake.
Monitor walking and unsafe wandering
There is also the need to provide dementia patients safe spaces to walk about if possible, however, it is essential to secure the perimeter and always encouraging social distancing while this is done.
People living with dementia may need extra and/or written reminders and support to remember important hygienic practices daily. You can consider placing signs in the bathroom and around the house to remind them to wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds under running water. Besides, alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a quick alternative to handwashing if the person cannot get to a sink or wash his/her hands easily.
Image source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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