There are an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, the majority of these are over the age of 65 and living with other health conditions. This can mean that they are more vulnerable to developing infections and experiencing severe symptoms. Here we provide some information about COVID-19 and dementia and some information about managing at this difficult time. We hope you find it useful.

Current UK Government restrictions have been put into place to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). These include social distancing measures that restrict us from leaving our homes unless for essential food shopping or to exercise once a day. Living with dementia, and supporting loved ones with dementia, can be challenging, therefore such restrictions may make day to day life difficult for those living with dementia, and their families and carers.

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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory virus; common symptoms include a high temperature, dry cough, and it may cause shortness of breath.

Vulnerable people such as those living with respiratory disorders, high blood pressure or diabetes, and everyone over the age of 70 have been asked to stay at home for the next 12 weeks. This measure will ensure people at high risk of developing more severe symptoms of COVID-19 are kept safe.

If you, or someone you live with develops symptoms you must self-isolate for 14 days. This is a vital measure that will help to contain the virus and not spread it to others.

COVID-19 isolation and symptoms

For the official guidelines on isolation and symptoms, please see the NHS website here.

COVID-19 and dementia

If you are the primary care giver for someone living with dementia, you are still able to do this under current guidelines.

However, at this current time non-carers cannot go to visit their loved ones, and this includes those living with dementia. This is understandably difficult. There are steps you can take to try best support someone from your own home. Make sure they have your contact number and are comfortable using the phone to stay in contact. You can give them a list of numbers for other friends, family members, and their doctor for example so they can call on people if they are worried.

It can be difficult to explain self-isolation and hand washing to someone with dementia, as they can struggle with complex information. Make sure any instructions are clear and repeated often so they do not get agitated and know how to keep themselves safe. Sometimes leaving notes for people in places around their homes can serve as a reminder.

People with dementia in their own homes may already feel isolated, and further self-isolation rules may make this worse. Make sure care plans are in place, and anyone providing care or support is doing so safely and within government guidelines. Stay connected by calling often or writing letters and try to encourage exercise and hobbies within the person’s home.

COVID-19 and caring for someone with dementia

If you are caring for someone with dementia and need some advice or support, Alzheimer’s Society have a support line on 0333 150 3456. For practical advice and medical support you can contact the Admiral Nurses helpline on 0800 888 6678.

Need further information?

You can find a list of organisations offering help, advice, information and support for people living with dementia and their carers here.

If you would like further information about dementia and COVID-19, including signposting to other useful organisations you can call our Dementia Infoline on 0300 111 5 111 Monday-Friday (9-5pm) or email infoline@alzheimersresearchuk.org