The coronavirus (COVID-19) currently poses a health risk to everyone, but according to the CDC there are people more at risk. Those include older adults and people who have chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
During this time being a caregiver for an elderly loved one living with dementia can be scary, which is why it is extra important to take actions now to reduce the risk for them.
The CDC recommends:
Know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help with ordering extra refills. You can also assist by picking up the refill or possibly having it delivered to the home.
Monitor food and other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan. If possible, it’s also best to have medical records on hand.
Stock up on non-perishable food items to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.
On top of following the general guidelines and washing hands and avoiding crowds, it might be best to keep friends and family visitations limited. There could be a chance those friends or family members have been exposed. There should also be a backup plan in place in case the caregiver falls ill.
Preplanning now can reduce anxiety, especially with the family, because they will already know a plan of action.
To continue avoiding groups of people, caregivers can also utilize grocery delivery services.
If the person with dementia has a standard checkup or a follow-up appointment, it is best to reschedule. If it’s an important appointment, see if it’s possible to do a video call with the doctor or use telehealth services, which allows physicians to confer with patients without leaving the house.
While in the house, the caregiver should still encourage activity. If the person with dementia has visited a CarePartners Gathering Place, the caregiver can do some of the same activities with them. They can do crafts, listen to music and exercise, even if that’s just walking up and down the hallway or around a room.