A crisis like the coronavirus pandemic can be scary and even more so for those living with dementia. It may be confusing and difficult for them to ascertain why they need to endure sudden closures and quarantines, but there are ways that you can help.
Prepare Without Panic
Help the person with dementia prepare for quarantine by stocking a two-week's supply of food and water for every member of the household, including pets, as well as a month's supply of necessary medications and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. In times of consumer panic, it may be tough to find the items that you need, including things like hand sanitizer and toilet paper. It will become easier to find high-demand items as manufacturers are increasing their production to meet the demand while the law is clamping down on price-gougers who hoard these essentials.
When it comes to virus prevention, don't underestimate the value of thorough and proper handwashing. Since this virus is transmitted through people's coughs, sneezes, and saliva, bacteria can be lurking anywhere, from a doorknob to the family dog. Help the individual with dementia wash their hands well, and make sure they use hot water, antibacterial soap, and disposable paper towels to help prevent infection.
Now is not the time to plan travel or to take your loved one out to crowded stores or events. Use common sense and stay home unless it is important that you go out, such as for a doctor's appointment. Also, if you do have errands or appointments, call ahead to ensure they are open and opt for drive-up service when offered.
Reassurance Is Key
Offer reassurance and remind your loved one to wash their hands often, but there is no need to dwell and ruminate on the pandemic. Answer questions honestly and quell any fears or worries that they may have. These are valid concerns as the average age of those dying from coronavirus is about 77 years old in the US.
Ask for Help
Do you need help with dementia care? It can be particularly demanding work—especially during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Reach out to local organizations, churches, and agencies to ask about resources for dementia patients and their caregivers in your area. During times of crisis, you may find that there are additional offerings that could make a difference in both your lives, like meal delivery, virus testing sites, and free vaccinations.
Seniors with dementia may find it difficult to understand and cope with the prospect of a pandemic. Use these tips to help them through this confusing time while also keeping them as safe as possible from transmission and illness. Moreover, caregivers should pay special attention to preventative practices to keep themselves safe as they care for others.