Special Precautions for COVID-19 and Dementia in the home.
We all know that older adults are not only at a higher risk of developing illness, whether it be the flu or a common cold, but also more likely to develop complications and at an increase risk of death due to these complications. Corona Virus is no different. Whether you believe the media is over-hyping it or that it a reason for extreme alarm, we need to take all precautions seriously in an effort to protect our loved ones with dementia.
Your may have already implemented a routine for increased cleanliness, limiting visitors, and ceasing outings., however, the direct impact for people with dementia has not been considered to the extent that it should be. Most people with dementia will be unable to process the change but they will certainly sense it. Any disruption to their routine is felt and can increase unwanted expressions or requires more emotional support.
In an effort to support people with dementia, their families, and their hired caregivers during this pandemic, I have compiled a list of tips for those who have a person with dementia living in their home. These tips will help to prevent the spread of illness while minimizing disruption.
Tip 1: Create a hand washing schedule.
You probably have a schedule for your loved one as routines are important for someone with dementia. Now more than ever, you need a hand-washing schedule. While this is something I recommend throughout the year, especially during flu season, it is even more important now. Hand sanitizer does not replace hand washing when hand washing is available. Remember that this is a disruption to their schedule so there may be push back or unwanted expressions.
Do know how to make this an activity instead of a task?
Tip 2: Create a cleaning and disinfecting regimen.
You’re already keeping a clean home environment, I’m sure of it! But, this is a new ball game. We need everyone to be disinfecting and cleaning non-stop. It is also going to require safety protocol so that residents with dementia do not have access to dangerous materials that can be ingested.
Do you have a way for caregivers or yourself to easily access to cleaning supplies without sacrificing safety of your residents with dementia?
Tip 3: Create a calm environment.
People with dementia tend to be more sensitive to the non-verbal cues and “vibes” in an environment. Therefore, if there is a panic or urgency in their home, they will feel it. This may increase stress and therefore you may see residents expressing themselves differently: crying, physical aggression, depression, seclusion, decreased appetite, sleep disruptions, etc. Creating a calm environment by establishing a protocol and expectations can minimize disruptive expressions. Most caregivers have attended seminars or trainings to understand dementia techniques but the teachings may not be easily transferable to a pandemic like Corona Virus.
Are you equipped with the correct skills and protocol to remain calm and keep your loved one calm during a pandemic of this nature?
Tip 4: Enter their reality.
Our reality is that there is a pandemic spreading across the world and it is resulting in extreme illness and death. The media is creating a grim reality, whether true or false, and our reality is a scary one. However, your residents do not share that reality. Their reality is that it’s a beautiful Thursday afternoon and the sun is shining and they want to go out to lunch. You need to pull out all the techniques: validation, redirection, and yes: maybe even lying. While many are aware of and generally understand these techniques, I often see them used incorrectly and causing a major disruption.
Are you comfortable with the specific methods and how to correctly implement these techniques under these circumstances?
Tip 5: Put other duties on the back burner and get help!
You may need to help or to ask for help to implement some of these new protocols and unfortunately, extra help may not be available. Your home care agency may even cease services. So you need a back-up plan. You may need to recruit other family members or friends to camp out and provide support.
Have you de-prioritized duties and created a back-up plan for care for the person with dementia?
Trovato Can Help.
We understand this is overwhelming for many families. Given how many people this and the vulnerable population we serve impact, Trovato is offering special discounted remote services while we are impacted by this pandemic.
COVID-19 Consulting and support: Whether you want help developing a prevention plan, planning for a hospital visit, handling challenges as they arise, or need some additional education and support around Corona Virus and dementia, we can help. Set up a call where you have 60 minutes to discuss the challenges and receive solutions.