Managing through COVID-19
Below are some tips and resources for individuals living with dementia, Caregivers and Families.
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.
About COVID-19 and dementia
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.
Handwashing for People with Dementia
In practicing hand hygiene, consider helping the person with dementia using the following tips:
Demonstrate by washing your hands alongside the person. Follow the handwashing guidelines.
Provide step-by-step instructions verbally or through accessible instructions with large font and pictures.
Include 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
Engage the person in the process and put their preferences first when possible. For example, ask them to choose between two soap scents.
Use 60% or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer as an alternative if the person is unable to wash their hands with soap and water.
Staying Connected While Maintaining Physical Distancing
Physical distancing is an effective way to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. Staying home when possible and keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others are some of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
To learn more about current Public Health Physical Distancing guidelines, check out the Physical distancing fact sheet.
However, physical distancing does not need to mean social isolation. To help you stay connected with others during the pandemic, we have launched a closed Facebook Group for caregivers called the Support and Education Forum. If you are caring for someone living with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, please join us!
Here are some helpful resources about practicing physical distancing without becoming socially isolated:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tips for people with dementia, caregivers and families
- Social distancing YES, social isolation NO
Here are helpful resources with instructions for using technology to stay connected:
- Virtual visits toolkit (for tips on using Zoom and Skype).
- Making video calls with FaceTime
- 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.
Take Care of Yourself
Stay physically active. Exercise regularly. Go for neighbourhood walks with the person you are caring for. There are many free videos available online, through platforms like YouTube, that will guide you through an at-home workout.
Eat healthily. You can get healthy grocery items delivered to your home. Or, you can ask your friends, family or neighbours to run this errand for you.
Connect with others. Schedule daily calls with a family member or friend. Even a few minutes can help.
Take time to de-stress. Try stretching, yoga, taking deep breaths, or meditating. There are free videos available online, through platforms like YouTube, that will guide you through these activities. There are also free apps that you can download on your phone or tablet.
Get your sleep. Do your best to keep a regular sleeping schedule.
Be mindful of the coping strategies you use. Avoid unhealthy or excessive coping strategies like alcohol or drug use, smoking, binge eating, online shopping, etc. Seek support if you feel you need it.
Ask for and accept help from neighbours, family or friends. Connect with your local Alzheimer Society to see how they can support you.
Limit your news consumption to one or two trusted sources. While it is important to stay informed, it is also important to be conscious of how the news is affecting you. Check your trusted news source once in the morning and once in the evening.
Here are more helpful resources about mental health and COVID-19:
It’s important to stimulate your brain and keep active. To help with this, we’ve launched a new YouTube series called “Keeping Busy with the ASNB” where we share leisure videos to give you ideas of activities you can do at home with someone living with dementia.
Many organizations are producing virtual content to help people stay entertained while they are at home practicing social distancing. Try taking a virtual tour of a museum or attending a virtual concert!
If online activities aren’t for you, or if you’re looking for something to do while you disconnect, check out this Dementia Activity Booklet created by students at the McGill School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, or try our list of 102 “unplugged” activities.
Stay Calm and Plan Ahead
Make a list of important numbers and display it somewhere prominent. Include the numbers of your local public health unit, your healthcare provider, your local Alzheimer Society and emergency contacts.
Ensure that you have enough household supplies and medications on hand for two weeks.
Ask family members, friends and/or neighbours to help in case you’re unable to continue caring for the person due to illness or quarantine.
Have a back-up plan for if you become ill. Document detailed instructions for care. List the medications the person is taking and how often they need to take them.
Prepare a bag with essentials in case you need to go to the hospital (e.g. a set of clothes, personal care items, emergency contact information, important medical information like what medications they are taking, something that outlines the person’s advanced care wishes).
Here are more helpful resources about how to be ready for an emergency department visit:
What To Do If You Suspect You Have COVID-19
Complete a self-assessment. Click here to complete the assessment provided by Public Health.
Contact your healthcare provider or Tele-Care 811 for guidance. Call ahead to tell them about your symptoms and follow their instructions for next steps.
Self-isolate for 14 days. Stay in a separate room if you live with others. If this is not possible, keep a minimum distance of 2-metres from others living in your home. Consult a healthcare provider for additional advice.
Disinfect any shared spaces after you use them.
Ask family members, friends and/or neighbours if they can help support you. Have a detailed care plan ready.
What To Do If You Suspect The Person You Care For Has COVID-19
Contact your healthcare provider or Tele-Care 811 for guidance. Call ahead to tell them about the person’s symptoms and follow their instructions for next steps.
Watch the person’s condition carefully. A person living with dementia might have trouble communicating how they feel. Watch for symptoms like increased confusion. If the person’s confusion increases rapidly, contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
Be prepared. Have a bag packed and ready in case you need to go to the hospital.
Physically isolate the person from others for 14 days.
Routinely wash your hands, avoid touching your face and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.