Dementia in the days of COVID-19

During this time of increased isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people living with dementia and the people who care for them are disconnected from support networks and facing unexpected challenges. It is the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s mission to ensure that no one walks alone on the dementia journey. Now and in the coming weeks, caregivers and people living with dementia will share their everyday challenges and successes as a part of our Dementia in the days of COVID-19 series.

Craig’s story: Proactive during the pandemic

Since Craig Burns was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s disease, he has become an outspoken advocate for people living with dementia. He threw himself into volunteer work on a national awareness campaign, helps guide the Alzheimer Society of B.C. on its Leadership Group of People Living with Dementia, as well as the Board of Directors, participates in clinical dementia research and speaks at Society events.

He also enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren, hitting the gym three times a week and meeting with other people in Kelowna who are living with dementia at an early-stage support group. Keeping socially engaged and physically active are keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for anyone – but for people like Craig, they’re a lifeline.

“I deal with depression with Alzheimer’s and this whole scenario is causing quite a bit of anxiety,” Craig says. “I’ve done a bunch of projects around the home, but I’ve run out of things to do.”

Much of his volunteer work continues remotely, but for someone living with dementia on their own, meetings on a screen are no replacement for human contact – and often more challenging because of added technical issues. Craig tries to keep proactive with virtual or distanced visits with friends and family. His advice for others alone during the pandemic is nothing new, he says, but valuable just the same:

“Maintain a regular pattern,” he says. “Don’t go wild on trying to find new things, but if something new comes up, try it.”

While he waits for social gatherings to return, the gym to open up, the support group to resume, Craig is walking and reflecting a lot these days. He takes the trails around Okanagan Lake and buys coffee from newly-made friends at one of the few businesses still open. Sometimes he’ll sit at the park where other people are in sight, alongside osprey and otters at the bird sanctuary.

“I’ve rediscovered the beauty of nature,” Craig says. “The beauty of birds singing, the beauty of spring and the blossoms coming out.”

On May 31, people across Canada will join together to raise awareness and raise funds – and show that no matter what the world looks like, Canadians are united to support people affected by dementia. Register and fundraise for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s online and join Alzheimer Societies across Canada to celebrate online on May 31 starting at 9 a.m. PDT. You can watch the event anywhere you have an internet connection.

If you have questions or concerns about dementia or someone living with dementia in your care, call the First Link® Dementia Helpline. Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. in English (1-800-936-6033) and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in Cantonese or Mandarin (1-833-674-5007) and Punjabi (1-833-674-5003).

Last Updated: 05/21/2020