Even as COVID-19 cases ebb in many states, seniors with dementia remain at high risk of the disease. Presently, more than 50% of deaths in 14 U.S. states have occurred at nursing homes. And, according to Worldometer, approximately 60% of seniors who succumbed to COVID-19 had underlying health conditions. If your loved one suffers from cognitive impairment in any form, our post on COVID-19 and dementia offers helpful tips for navigating the crisis.
How to Protect Seniors With Dementia From COVID-19
People with dementia are less likely to remember critical habits like wearing masks or practicing social distancing. They forget easily. Below, we reveal some guidelines for protecting your loved one in various settings.
1. At Home
Be sure to use communication techniques that work best for people with memory and cognitive impairments. Remain calm because they tend to have sensitive natures. Also, take the following steps:
- Use alcohol-based sanitizers to protect against the virus. Additionally, be gentle when applying sanitizer to your loved one’s hands.
- Discourage your loved one from frequent touching of the face or mouth. Again, refrain from showing signs of irritation if there is resistance. Give frequent reminders, if possible.
- Encourage your loved one to implement a hand sanitation regime. Follow the hand-under-hand technique. Scrub hands with soap and rinse with warm water for 20 seconds. Working up a lather for 20 seconds traps viral molecules in bubbles (“micelles”) which can then be rinsed away. Be gentle and patient each time.
- For infection control, have your loved one cover the mouth with disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing.
- Ensure that high-touch areas are cleaned and disinfected regularly. Such areas include grab bars in bathrooms, door handles, countertops, and frequently used appliances. The CDC has examples of high-touch surfaces on its website, and the EPA recently released a list of disinfectants to use against SARS-CoV-2.
- Adhere to state shelter-in-place orders and stock up on food essentials. For a safe shopping experience, shop during senior-only hours. Refer to this list of grocers offering such hours.
2. At Assisted Living Homes
The following precautions can help serve those in assisted living communities:
- Limits on visitors
- Implementation of hygiene control practices
- Reduced excursions to other communities
Remember, such a change in policy is only temporary.
Presently, more than half of U.S. states prohibit visitations at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Stay away if you have:
- Traveled overseas in the last two months
- Interacted with anyone who may have been sick
- Experienced mild symptoms such as coughs, achy joints, or a fever.
Cognitive Impairment Increases the Risk of COVID-19
Cognitive impairment hinders self-protection. A senior with dementia may not understand the risks of infection. Ultimately, this makes your loved one an easy target for COVID-19. In addition, social distancing can be a challenge for seniors who appreciate affectionate hugs from friends and family.
According to a recent study by the University of Exeter and the University of Connecticut, seniors with dementia are three times more likely to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms than those without cognitive impairments.
Best Practices for Protecting Seniors with Dementia
- At this time, a person with dementia should avoid all public gatherings.
- Help your loved one access telehealth services to protect their health and wellbeing.
- Join your loved in participating in a list of online and offline activities recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association.
Home health care agencies are at the frontline of efforts to protect seniors. Primarily, they can monitor behavioral and health changes in dementia patients as well as help with ADL (activities of daily living).
COVID-19 and Dementia: David York Agency Will Protect Seniors
David York Agency understands the challenges of caregiving and is willing to provide all the support you need during this time.
If you’d like more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.
David York Agency Home Healthcare remains committed to providing personalized care for your loved one. If you have questions about our services, please contact us. We can help you through the difficult times and give you the break you deserve!