COVID-19 Information for People Impacted by Dementia

Published: Mar 13, 2020

If you are living with dementia or caring for someone with the condition, you may be concerned about the current outbreak of COVID-19.

During this time, the Alzheimer Society of Calgary is continuing to serve the local community. Supporting the health and wellbeing of our community is our highest priority.

Current updates:

  • Our support team is available to provide free, confidential advice and information over the phone, by email and conference call. 
    To reach our support team, call 403.290.0110
    Or email findsupport@alzheimercalgary.ca
     
  • We are now offering extended hours so that families can reach our support team from 7:30AM-7:00PM Monday-Thursday and 8:00AM-4:00PM on Friday.. Call 403.290.0110 or email findsupport@alzheimercalgary.ca

 

  • We have recently launched a free Virtual Education Series. Whether you are a caregiver lokoing for specific tips to get you through this time or are just looking for more information about dementia, we have a webinar for you. Click on the session you are interested in. Webinar access details will be emailed to you upon registration. 
     
  • Click here to find a comprehensive list of ideas and resources for caregivers and people living with dementia
     

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

For up to date information please access the following link: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx

COVID-19 and Dementia

Dementia does not increase risk for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. However, dementia-related behaviors, increased age and common health conditions that often accompany dementia may increase risk.

For example, people with Alzheimer's disease and all other dementia may forget to wash their hands or take other recommended precautions to prevent illness. In addition, diseases like COVID-19 and the flu may worsen cognitive impairment due to dementia.

Health Tips for Caregivers and People Living with Dementia

  • Clean things that are handled a lot, such as remote controls, door handles and tap, etc.
  • Make sure you and the person you are taking care of have access to the medication they need.
  • Ensure the person with dementia knows who to call if they get unwell – leave the number prominently displayed.
  • If the person is going to be stuck in doors for a while, encourage them to do activities they enjoy. These activities could include reading, magazines, jigsaws, music, knitting, or watching their favorite television show.
  • Screen out troubling messages that they person may hear or see. Watching the news or listening to the news may cause the person to worry.
  • Keep in touch. If you cannot visit the person, stay in contact by phone, post, email or Skype.
  • Tell the person that you are thinking of them and encourage others to do so as well.
  • Make sure that they have our phone number so that they know that we are here to help.
  • Rest as much as possible. Looking after yourself is essential.
  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor about filling prescriptions for a greater number of days to reduce trips to the pharmacy.
  • Think ahead and make alternative plans for the person with dementia should adult day care, respite, etc. be modified or cancelled in response to COVID-19.
  • Think ahead and make alternative plans for care management if the primary caregiver should become sick.
  • Maintain your regular routines as much as possible.

People living with dementia may need extra and/or written reminders and support to
remember important hygienic practices from one day to the next.

  • Consider placing signs in the bathroom and elsewhere to remind people with dementia to wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds.
  • Demonstrate thorough hand-washing.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a quick alternative to hand-washing if the person with dementia cannot get to a sink or wash his/her hands easily.

What should I do if I think I may have COVID-19?

Alberta Health Services advises that if you have symptoms such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing and have travelled outside Canada or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, stay home and call Health Link 811. If you are not seriously ill, do not go to a physician’s office, a health care facility or a lab without consulting with Health Link 811 first. Call 911 if you are seriously ill and need immediate medical attention and inform them that you may have COVID-19.

How to help local seniors who may be isolated

Social isolation can be very harmful for seniors. During this time where social distancing is being widely recommended, consider reaching out to a neighbour, friend or relative, who may be isolated. Simple actions such as a phone call, or an offer to pick up a few groceries, can make a big difference.

Important phone numbers:

Alzheimer Society of Calgary: 403-290-0110
Health Link: 811
Distress Centre: 403- 266-1601