A pandemic is an epidemic of disease that is not confined to any geographical location and spreads to different nooks and corners in the world. COVID-19 is a very good example of a pandemic caused by a coronavirus. Although this virus has its harmful implications, it has made life even more difficult with other diseases.
Dementia or forgetfulness is one such example. This article intends to discuss the various aspects of dementia care and how care should be taken during the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Dementia- What Is It?
Dementia can broadly be defined as the decline in the cognitive ability of an individual. It is mainly associated with difficulty in communication and thinking, which can sometimes result in memory loss.
Although it is generally seen as a person ages, it is not normally related to old age as such. A person with dementia forgets to perform common day-to-day activities and feels disoriented most of the time.
Dealing with a dementia patient during this pandemic can become a little cumbersome.
7 Stages Of Dementia
• No impairment stage – there are no symptoms as such.
• Very mild cognitive decline – forgetfulness at a very initial part. A person might forget common phrases or location.
• Mild cognitive decline – starts coming to notice. A person has difficulty in communicating and keeps repeating words continuously. Daily activities become more difficult.
• Moderate cognitive decline – the stage at which the help of a health-care professional becomes necessary.
• Moderately severe cognitive decline – routine tasks cannot be done independently, and a helping hand is needed at all times.
• Severe cognitive decline – a person starts becoming paranoid and full of anxiety at this stage. Daily activities, like even bathing, is impossible to do.
• Very severe cognitive decline – the last stage of dementia which corresponds to severe alzheimer’s disease. There is difficulty in motor activities like walking and talking.
How To Help Loved Ones With Dementia Cope During COVID-19
If you are a caregiver or have a loved one at home with dementia during the pandemic, these are the few common things that you can do-
• Have a structured plan drawn out and engage them in some kind of activities. These commonly include folding the laundry or sorting out vegetables. This will help in preserving cognitive abilities for longer.
• Always be calm and composed. A dementia patient is prone to high levels of anxiety and panic attacks. You should be the complete opposite and emanate an assuring vibe.
• Engage in other activities like listening to music, playing some simple games, going through photos.
• Since dementia is mainly associated with older people, address their spiritual needs. It helps them feel relaxed and more connected to everything around them.
• Use appropriate technology to help them be connected to their near and dear ones.
Dementia Caregivers At Home
If you are a dementia caregiver at home during the pandemic, these tips may be useful for you:
• If you notice an increase in the patient’s confusion and anxiety, contact the health giver first before taking to the emergency room.
• Since they are forgetful, you need to keep reminding them of the importance of maintaining hygiene and how they should wash hands for 20 seconds and cough into the elbow, etcetera.
• Have medications for a greater number of days at your disposal.
• In case the patient goes for day-care facilities, it is likely to get canceled. Therefore, have a backup plan ready for the same. This is an important part of assisted living & senior communities, which you should know how to implement.
• In case the primary caregiver is not well, you should be prepared to take the onus upon yourself.
Persons With Dementia Who Receive Home-Based Services
If you have to employ a professional for a home-based service, keep the following in mind:
• Call the agency and discuss the various protocols that they have in place.
• When the health care professional arrives, check their temperature. It should be below 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Ask them if they had worked with a patient before who tested positive for COVID-19.
• Make sure that the person is wearing masks at all times. Maintenance of proper hand hygiene is also equally important.
Persons With Dementia Who Live In Long-Term Care Or Residential Care Settings
If you have a loved one in a memory care facility, these few tips could be useful for this particular scenario.
• If they are limiting the number of visitors and visiting hours, respect them.
• If you feel you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, avoid visiting your loved ones despite their dementia.
• Contact your loved ones through videos and other portals that do not need close contact.
The Bottom Line
The pandemic has gripped the whole world and crippled it. It can be even more taxing for people with dementia. However, taking the right steps and seeking the help of caregivers and health professionals can help in averting any uncomfortable situation that may arise.
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Holly is a seasoned writer who loves to create content related to aging issues and everything to do with senior living. She is a frequent contributor to many top online publications including Assisted Living Near Me, where she creates content that is specific to assisted living for older adults, as well as SeniorLivingFacilities.net, where she writes about common issues affecting senior citizens and provides senior living advice.