COVID-19: Tips for Caregivers of Individuals with Dementia

 In Elder Law, Health

There is no evidence to suggest that dementia itself increases the risk for Coronavirus, just like dementia does not increase risk for flu. However, behaviors, increased age, and common health conditions that often accompany dementia may increase risk. For example, people with dementia may forget to wash their hands or take other recommended precautions to prevent the illness. Viruses like COVID-19 or the flu may worsen cognitive impairment due to dementia.

Caregivers of individuals living with dementia should follow guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and consider the following tips:

  • Increased confusion is often the first symptom of any illness for people living with dementia. If your loved one shows rapidly increased confusion, you should contact their health care provider for advice. Unless your loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, such as difficulty breathing or a very high fever, it is recommended that you call their health care provider instead of going directly to an emergency room. Their doctor may be able to treat them without a visit to the hospital.
  • Individuals living with dementia may need extra reminders and support to remember important hygienic practices.
    • Consider placing signs in the bathroom and elsewhere to remind your loved one to wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds.
    • Demonstrate thorough handwashing.
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a quick alternative to handwashing if your loved one cannot get to a sink to wash their hands easily.
  • Ask their pharmacist of doctor about filling prescriptions for a greater number of days to reduce trips to the pharmacy.
  • Think ahead and make alternative plans for care management if the primary caregiver should become sick.
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