COVID-19: Tips for Supporting Loved Ones with Dementia Living in Nursing Homes During the Pandemic
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.
The CDC has provided guidance on the prevention and control of COVID-19 in nursing homes. Precautions may vary based on local situations. If you have a loved one with dementia living in a nursing home:
- Check with the facility regarding their procedures for managing COVID-19 risk. Make sure the facility has your emergency contact information and contact information for another family member or friend as backup.
- Do not visit your loved one in the facility if you have been exposed to COVID-19, or have any signs or symptoms of illness.
- Depending on the situation in your local area, facilities may limit or not allow visitors, in order to protect the residents.
- If visitation is not allowed, ask the facility how you can have contact with your loved one. Options may include telephone calls, video chats, or emails to check in.
- If your loved one is unable to engage in calls or video chats, ask the facility how you can keep in touch with staff in order to get updates.