Covid-19, the latest health scare, that has been reigning over us for over two years, has been afflicting one and all. From young, healthy, fitness-conscious people to aged people with co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension, all have been under its radar. However, not many know that these factors are also linked with dementia. Researchers at Case Western Reserve conducted a study using information from the electronic health records of about 61.9 million U.S. adults from all 50 states to understand the link between Covid-19 and dementia. As per the findings of the study, people with dementia are twice likely to be susceptible to Covid-19. Research has shown that people with dementia may have difficulties following safety protocols such as washing their hand ad maintaining social distance. In such situations how to care for people suffering from dementia? Following are the pointers to be implemented in such situations.
Maintain normality in routine
Troubling their normal routine can unsettle dementia patients. 2Carry on the daily routine as usual for a sense of normality.
Explain about Covid-19 to them
In dementia patients, understanding Covid-19 and following safety protocols can be difficult. But if the patient is in the early stages of dementia, it is helpful to talk and reassure them that everything is under control.
Ensure they follow safety protocols
Explain the importance of following safety protocols such as washing hands frequently, wearing masks, and maintaining social distancing. Also, make sure that they are vaccinated.
Use audio-visual aids if needed
If the patient is in an advanced stage of dementia, then the information needs to be conveyed slowly and with frequent pauses. You need to communicate in short and simple sentences and at a time when they are at their cognitive best. You can also take the help of audio-visual aids.
Keep them occupied
Keeping dementia patients occupied is necessary even if there aren’t any pandemic restrictions. You can play indoor games with them, listen to music together, watch a movie or even relive memories by browsing through old photo albums.
Keep them physically and mentally active
Dementia patients should remain physically active and mentally alert so ensure that they do light exercises or walk or do meditation or breathing exercises. Also, they need to have proper nutrition and should stay hydrated so they need to drink water periodically.
Connect them with family and friends
Since it is safer to keep distance from other people, connect with people on video calls while you are with dementia patients to ensure that they are interacting with people.
Stay connected with the doctor
If visiting the doctor at his clinic or in the hospital is not feasible, regularly interact with the doctor over their health updates. If you need help regarding any of this, look into the telepsychiatry guidelines, as an example, in India, it was released first of its kind by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences along with the Indian Psychiatric Society3 (IPS).
To sum it up, don’t allow the Covid-19 restrictions to affect the health of dementia patients. Delay in treatment or even diagnosis especially for the elders can adversely affect their health. Also, prepare yourself in advance for alternative caretakers such as friends, relatives, or caregivers so that in case you get afflicted by Covid-19, you have somebody to care for your loved one.
1. Dementia increases the risk and severity of COVID-19, study finds | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)
2. Coronavirus: Tips For Dementia Caregivers (And How To Care For Yourself) (webmd.com)
3. Frontiers | Caring for Persons Living With Dementia During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Advocacy Perspectives From India | Psychiatry (frontiersin.org)