Helpful Tips and Resources during COVID-19
You may be concerned about COVID‐19 and how the situation may impact you. Learn your facts from reliable sources. Visit the New Brunswick Public Health Website for up to date information.
Most likely, dementia does not increase risk for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, just like dementia does not increase risk for flu.
However, dementia-related behaviors, increased age and common health conditions that often accompany dementia may increase risk. For example, people with dementia may forget to wash their hands or take other recommended precautions to prevent illness. In addition, diseases like COVID-19 and the flu may worsen cognitive impairment due to dementia.
For people living with dementia, increased confusion is often the first symptom of any illness. If a person living with dementia shows rapidly increased confusion, contact your health care provider for advice.
Many grocery stores and pharmacies are now offering online shopping and delivery. Some stores are introducing dedicated shopping hours for seniors or those living with disabilities. Community Associations are also organizing free grocery and medication delivery. Call your local grocery store, pharmacy or community association to find out what’s available and the designated shopping hours.
Canadian Mental Health Association
The CMHA has some great tips on mental health and dealing with COVID-19.
Chimo is a provincial crisis phone line, accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to all residents of New Brunswick.
Dementia Talk App
This app has great information for caregivers on responding to challenging behaviours. Available for Apple and Android.
New Brunswick Public Libraries
The New Brunswick Library’s digital library will remain open and available 24/7 throughout the closure. You can access e-books and other mediums with your library card!
Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick
This can be a difficult and isolating time for people. Keep in mind that you are not alone. We are open, call us if you have any questions or want to talk. Call 1-800-664-8411 or email [email protected].
Handwashing for People with Dementia
In practicing hand hygiene, consider helping the person with dementia using the following tips:
- Provide clear instructions about how to wash hands and cover coughs using:
- the language most commonly used by the person with dementia
- short messages that explain simple steps they can take
- large font and graphics/pictures
- accessible instructions (e.g., braille, pictures)
- visual signs in common areas near sinks, in the kitchen, in bathrooms or laundry rooms – this will serve as a constant reminder for both the person with dementia and the
caregiver to wash their hands
- Demonstrate thorough hand‐washing or hand‐wash at the same time
- Alcohol‐based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a quick alternative to hand‐washing if the person with dementia cannot get to a sink or wash his/her hands easily.
- Ask your pharmacist or doctor about filling prescriptions for a greater or maximum number of days to reduce trips to the pharmacy.
- Explore phone or video call consultations with your doctor and other health practitioners.
- Keep a few weeks’ worth of essential supplies such as food, hygiene and health products.
- Make alternative plans for care management if the primary caregiver should become sick.
- Share your plan with your family, friends and neighbours. Set up a buddy system to check in on each other by phone, email or text during times of need.
- Plan for a variety of activities that will help keep the person engaged if they need to stay indoors. Keep in touch with family and friends by phone, video call or social media.
- Prepare an emergency bag each for the person with dementia and the caregiver with a set of clothes, list of medications and emergency contact info.
- If there’s a need to leave the home, seek help from family and friends for assistance or consider using volunteer drivers and subsidized taxi fares instead of public transportation.
- Expand your circle of support and ask trusted members of your family or friends if they can step in to help if needed.
- Document the types of care you provide i.e. medication, meals etc. so someone can easily reference and provide the care needed.
- Keep a list of all doctors and other healthcare providers in one place.
- Ensure any medical records or other documentation is easily accessible so members of your circle know where to find them.
By making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other, social distancing is an effective way to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.
This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:
- avoiding non-essential gatherings
- avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
- avoiding crowded places such as concerts, arenas, conferences and festivals
- limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
- keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others
Click here to read a great article titled, Social Distancing YES, Social Isolation NO by the Ontario Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Initiative.
Keep in touch with families and friends using different means of communication:
- Landline phone
- Smartphones and tablets make it easy to send and receive pictures and videos
- Video chatting can allow you to communicate in groups and share daily activities (facetime, skype, zoom)
Consider scheduling regular chats and online social gatherings with a variety of people.
If your care recipient has a personal computer and requires assistance from you to get started, consider exploring remote desktop software such as https://remotedesktop.google.com/ or Microsoft remote Desktop.
If you are caring for someone in a long-term or other healthcare facility, check to see what technology they have available to allow you to stay in touch.
Look after Yourself
- If watching, reading or listening to the news is causing anxiety and distress, reduce your exposure and seek updates from trusted sources once or twice a day.
- Find opportunities to share positive or funny stories and acknowledge those in your circle.
- Exercise regularly, keep a regular sleep routine and eat healthy food.
- Keep busy! Many organizations are producing virtual content to help people stay entertained while they are home practicing social distancing. Check out the following resources:
Pay attention to flu or pneumonia-like symptoms in yourself and others and report them to a medical professional immediately.
Tips to keep yourself and the person you’re caring for healthy include:
- Practice proper handwashing.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick; work from home.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Throw the tissue in the trash then wash your hands afterwards
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as remote controls and door handles, using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow current social distancing guidelines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided guidance to facilities on infection control and prevention of COVID-19 in nursing homes. This guidance is for the health and safety of residents. Precautions may vary based on local situations.
- Check with the facility regarding their procedures for managing COVID-19 risk. Ensure they have your emergency contact information and the information of another family member or friend as a backup.
- Do not visit your family member if you have any signs or symptoms of illness.
- Depending on the situation in your local area, facilities may limit or not allow visitors. This is to protect the residents but it can be difficult if you are unable to see your family member.
- If visitation is not allowed, ask the facility how you can have contact with your family member. Options include telephone calls, video chats or even emails to check in.
- If your family member is unable to engage in calls or video chats, ask the facility how you can keep in touch with facility staff in order to get updates.