Caring for someone living with dementia in long-term care during COVID-19

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Caring for someone living with dementia in a long-term care home

Due to the restrictions on visiting long-term care homes, many people are unable to visit their family members. Caregivers of people living in long-term care homes may experience frustration, anxiety, fear, sadness, grief, or guilt. Recognizing and acknowledging the feelings you are experiencing can help you to manage how you cope with this stressful situation. 

Consider alternative ways of staying connected with your family member in long-term care: 

  • Can you talk to them on the phone or visit over Skype?
  • Can the staff deliver a message for you? 
  • Can staff provide you with updates by phone or email?

This is a difficult position to be in. Try to remind yourself that it’s safer if you do not visit and that this situation is only temporary. See section: “Self-care and caregiver resilience during COVID-19” for self-care tips.

Keeping in contact with loved ones from a distance

It can be incredibly difficult to not be allowed to maintain regular visits with your loved one, but there are many alternative modes of communication to keep in touch.

  • Stay in contact with family and friends over the phone, and if you can, make use of face-to-face technology such as FaceTime or Skype.
  • If the person living with dementia is more confused or tired at certain times of the day try to schedule calls when they will be alert and engaged.
  • If there are times of the day when they become anxious or agitated, try to schedule calls at a time when the person may need reassurance. 
  • Try to reach out to the staff and discuss the best way to keep in touch, although bear in mind that their responses may be delayed as workers will have many enquiries during the current crisis. 

Additional resources 

Consider contacting the First Link® Dementia Helpline for information and support. In addition to crucial emotional support and a listening ear, callers can access information about living with dementia during COVID-19 including practical strategies on a variety of topics, such as behavioural and communication challenges.

  • English: 1-800-936-6033 (9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday)
  • Punjabi: 1-833-674-5003 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday)
  • Cantonese or Mandarin: 1-833-674-5007 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday)

Further support is available through our webinars, which are held every week. Register for our upcoming webinars on our website or explore our recorded videos which are available 24/7 to learn about many more topics related to caregiving for a person living with dementia.

Last Updated: 05/06/2020