For those living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia and their caregivers, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique challenge. Many Tennesseans are currently not able to visit their loved ones living in memory care facilities and family caregivers with loved ones in the home may feel more isolated than ever before.
The Alzheimer’s Association stands ready to help families in the Williamson County community, and statewide, who are impacted. In addition to advocating for vital public policies to protect long-term care residents and workers, the Alzheimer’s Association has also released guidelines and tips to support Tennesseans through this crisis.
If you’re a family caregiver for someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, these tips can help you and your loved one stay healthy:
- For people living with dementia, increased confusion is often the first symptom of any illness. If a person living with dementia shows rapidly increased confusion, contact your health care provider for advice. Unless the person is having difficulty breathing or a very high fever, it is recommended that you call your healthcare provider instead of going directly to an emergency room. Your doctor may be able to treat the person without a visit to the hospital.
- 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.
- 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.
If you or a loved one are living in a residential care facility, the Association recommends the following:
- Check with the facility regarding their procedures for managing COVID-19 risk. Ensure they have your emergency contact information and the information of another family member or friend as a backup.
- Do not visit your family member if you have any signs or symptoms of illness.
- Depending on the situation in your local area, facilities may limit or not allow visitors. This is to protect the residents but it can be difficult if you are unable to see your family member.
- If visitation is not allowed, ask the facility how you can have contact with your family member. Options include telephone calls, video chats or even emails to check in.
- If your family member is unable to engage in calls or video chats, ask the facility how you can keep in touch with facility staff in order to get updates.
Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Association has shifted their educational and support programming to a virtual format, including recurring programs in partnership with the library. You can find a full schedule of those programs here.
And finally, remember you are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a free, 24/7 Helpline where you can reach a master-level clinician for support or advice. Call 800-272-3900 to get connected.
This general overview of Alzheimer’s and dementia explores the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, examines what happens in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s, identifies FDA-approved treatments available for some symptoms, looks at what’s on the horizon for Alzheimer’s research, and offers helpful Alzheimer’s Association resources.
Presented online by the Alzheimer’s Association Tennessee Chapter. Each presentation is about an hour long, so the second hour of each program will be devoted to Q&A, gathering resources, one-on-one conversations, and planning sessions.
Plan to attend online with your phone, tablet or computer on April 28 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. Registration with a valid email address is required. The day before the event, we will send an invitation with a link for you to join the program.