The world has been flattened by COVID-19. Not just by the disease itself—as devastating as it is—but by the unknowns surrounding it. When will there be a vaccine? When will the country reopen for good? When can we hug our loved ones again?
No one knows. But there are a few lessons we have learned, and they can be powerful weapons against the virus. You may find it helpful to group these tactics into three categories: healthcare, hygiene, and helpers.
• Along with difficulty breathing, fatigue, body aches, etc., there’s an important symptom of COVID-19 to recognize in people living with dementia: increased confusion. It can be hard to tell what’s normal and what’s elevated, so call your healthcare provider if there’s any doubt.
• Unless it’s an emergency, reach out to your provider by phone or email. They may be able to schedule a tele-health appointment so you can skip the office (and its germs).
• Another way to avoid extra trips to the doctor or pharmacy is to ask if prescriptions can be written for a longer length of time.
• One of the simplest ways to fight the coronavirus is hand-washing. If your loved one can’t remember to wash their hands, put up signs in the bathroom and kitchen as reminders.
• You may also want to demonstrate proper hand-washing or include a reminder on the signs.
• Place bottles of hand sanitizer (60–95% alcohol) throughout the home for a quick and effective hand-washing alternative.
• If your loved one has a professional caregiver, ask what safety protocols they’ve implemented during the pandemic. (For an example, this case study details our new live-in care program.)
• Ask all caregivers to wash their hands when they enter the home and throughout the day.
• Conduct frequent temperature checks. If a caregiver has a fever over 100.4°, they should not come in.
• Make sure any visitor wears a mask—or better yet, visits outside at a six-foot distance.
• Provide your caregiver with this list of resources. It has lots of helpful ideas for socially distant exercise, music, religion, sports, arts, education, and other activities.