Dementia & COVID-19

With the dawn of the novel coronavirus, many are uncertain of how to move forward. This is especially true for the health care workers, home health aides, and home care nurses who provide care to those with dementia. If you find yourself unsure on the best caregiving strategy, the following is a basic guideline for approaching dementia care in the age of COVID-19. 

Routine is Key

As in all things, the key to a successful day-to-day is routine. According to Phoebe James, a director of Wentworth Senior Living’s All Points Program, it is important to maintain a daily routine for your loved one. Even more so, she states that they need to “feel as though they have a purpose in daily tasks.”

This can manifest in involving the person with activities they enjoy within daily to-dos. If the dementia patient has a knack for organizing, they can help tidy the house. If they are an animal lover, they can help tend to any furry friends around. The goal is to create meaningful tasks that will pass time and fulfill a sense of accomplishment for the patient. 

Aid in Habits of Cleanliness

Those with dementia may not have the wherewithal to always remember to wash their hands. Thus, to ensure that they are given the opportunity to be as clean as possible, the CDC recommends leaving notes for patients. They posit the idea to add notes in bathrooms and near sinks “to remind people with dementia to wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds.” Through enacting these notes, caregivers can enable their loved ones to practice defensiveness in the age of this current moment. 

Be Mindful of Mood

When it comes to caregiving during the pandemic, it’s important to always be on the ready for a change in mood. We are living in a different world than we were a year ago, and nearly everyone is feeling the emotional weight of the change. This includes patients with dementia.

Changes in daily routine, upheavals in other people’s mood, and other external factors can manifest in confusion within the patient. When things are out of control, they may have the urge to act on emotional outbursts caused by the confusion.

Thus, it’s important to be there for the person. Have redirecting methods at the ready. This could be a memory book, familiar childhood item, or other object of comfort. The goal is for the patient to have a method of centering, reflection, and calming before returning to tackle the day.