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The scenario of COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for everyone. It is infecting many people irrespective of their age and health conditions. Caregivers are the ones facing a difficult time, especially who look after people with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. CORONAVIRUS LIVE UPDATES.
Having Alzheimer's does not mean that the person is susceptible to COVID-19. As more patients of Alzheimer's are older (above 65) and have preexisting medical conditions like hypertension or diabetes, they are considered vulnerable to the infection compared to adults or people with a strong immune system.
Another problem is that, if a person with Alzheimer's catches COVID-19, it is very hard for the caregivers or nurses to isolate them from others or to maintain their regular cleanliness and help them with bathing or eating.
COVID-19 And Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease that affects the memory and thinking capability of a person. The disease also makes them prone to many viruses, like COVID-19 as they are incapable to understand the benefits of hand washing or other necessary precautions to prevent them.
Though Alzheimer's and dementia are not the risk factors for COVID-19, they may increase the risk of the spread of the infection. The main reason is cognitive impairment. Even a person with good memory power sometimes forgets to wash their hands, so how could we expect the same from someone who has Alzheimer's or dementia.
Another reason is social distancing. We know people with Alzheimer's need more love and care and social distancing may increase their symptoms in the absence of their loved ones. All such things make them an easy target for COVID-19. Coronavirus: What Is Social Distancing? Dos And Don'ts Of Social Distancing.
How To Care For People With Alzheimer's
1. Follow the routine
If your loved one, who has Alzheimer's, attends a program every week and is unable to go now due to the lockdown, the best way to take care of them is by planning some other activities at home. Engage them in some small tasks like reading a story for them or teaching them how to make cards.
2. Help them release stress
COVID-19 lockdown has increased mental stress in people. Even normal adults are sometimes unable to cope with the situation due to homebound stress. Therefore, it is likely that people with Alzheimer's will face a heightened sense of stress and become more agitated. During such times, ensure them that they are safe and you are always there for them. Giving a soothing hug is the best way to calm them down.
3. Focus on self-hygiene
People with Alzheimer's often forget to wash their hands or carry out other self-hygiene tasks. If caregivers will encourage them to do it by setting a particular timing for hand wash or by putting signs near the bathroom, some behaviour changes may occur in them which will help them stay hygienic on their own.
4. Contact digitally
If your loved one is in a nursing home where outside visitors are not allowed due to the lockdown, connect to them digitally after proper communication from the care facilities. Ask them to arrange a video to prevent the gap of communication during the lockdown.
5. Fulfill their spiritual needs
Many old age people love to get involved in spiritual activities. If your loved one demands the same, try to fulfill them by other means such as saying a prayer together in the morning, reading their favourite worship book or listening together their favourite spiritual songs. This is help maintain a serene environment at home as well as provide peace to them and your whole family.