Dementia and Covid

I think we all know that this experience will change how we live, work and play. For many of us that work primarily with older adults, we are seeing how some of the changes may make growing older better for all of us. I look forward to these changes with hope, even though right now, things are more challenging to manage as we adapt to physical distancing.

In the past two weeks, my neighbors and I have all realized that a couple living on our street is in dire need of support. The woman has been knocking on my neighbors door (she is a doctor) at all hours of the day asking for her to check her heartbeat. There has been an EMT visit (the man fell down the stairs), and someone also called the police.

The reality is that none of us can help someone who doesn’t want or recognize they need help. There have been calls to their son who at least helped them set up support from a home care service. There is only so much you can do for your parents who believe they are fine and decline help. The son lives states away.

Yesterday, the home care assistant didn’t know when the woman left the home. When my neighbor took her back home, the home care assistant yelled at her about leaving.

For those of us who are caring or have cared for someone with dementia, we recognize that while they may not remember a conversation, they do seem to hold onto emotions. I am guessing it won’t be long before my neighbors insist the home care assistant gets fired. Who wants someone coming into their home and yelling at them?

We are in a difficult time and many of those performing the duties of home care are not paid well and are putting their lives at risk. However, we also need to find ways to ensure the person in our loved ones homes are trained to help them and I’m afraid that some families are not getting the right support.

So what can you do if your family is in this situation?

  1. Randomly call your loved ones and even have them just leave the call with the line open* so you can hear what is going on in the home and how your loved one(s) are being treated … and how they are responding. If you hear something of concern, reach out to the home care agency and ask for them to address it with the caregiver. I cycled through a variety of individuals before we found the right fit for my mom.
  2. Contact an Aging Life Care Manager. These professionals are trained to help find the right care and be the onsite advocate if you are unable to travel to your loved one. They are not inexpensive, but when it comes to the service and support, I have found they are worth every penny.
  3. Move your loved ones in with you, or move in with your loved ones. There are a few families that have made this choice because they felt it was the best decision for them. This can be a huge hardship and commitment.

    Just know you will make the best decision you can with the information you have. Be at peace with the difficult choices you are and will be faced with. Your loved ones are lucky to have someone in their life watching over them when they need it. Reassured.

*Your loved one doesn’t understand your request? You could ask them to put down the phone and go get something, like an Aunt’s address or phone number because you want to send them a note. Be creative.

8 thoughts on “Dementia and Covid

  1. I agree it’s frustrating to watch those with dementia who are alone and don’t have family nearby to help. I was fortunate enough to bring my father closer to me so that he could be in a memory care facility within 10 miles of my home. Before the pandemic, I could visit him as often as once a day. However, the past 5 weeks I haven’t been able to see him at all. Luckily I can call him and even have video chats. This change in our world is become so much more challenging. It’s wonderful to have a place like yours to communicate and reach out to others dealing with the same type of issues.

  2. Hi, I would like to buy a medicine management notebook from someone in my family (so he doesn’t forget to take his meds.). Do you think this is suitable for an Alzheimer’s patient? I looked and found two choices. I need an opinion. Help me make the choice…
    Gabriel Martin.
    The first notebook:
    The second notebook:

    1. Hi — I think you could easily create one of these but think it depends on the person. I think it would be better if they had a pill caddy/or had bubble wrapped doses. A paper system and process will be a hard habit to pick up if they aren’t already a “list” person, and if they are, have them help make a list. I would recommend you ask the local pharmacy for pill packages that are dated and have the time of day. If they miss a dose, it’s easy to see what they missed. This has worked well with a client of mine and empowers him to manage his own medication. Thanks for the note. I will do a future post on this.

    2. Best to go and see a physician when it comes to Alzheimer’s and medication management. A lot of factors are taken into consideration before allowing an individual to self medicate. In your case, it depends on the stages of Alzheimer’s, how bad the memory loss is and what medication they are taking. To the best of my knowledge, only a doctor can make those determinations. Have [the family member assessed] by a Doctor or an occupational therapist, they are the best people to make those recommendations.

      1. Thank you for bringing this up. I assumed (we all know what they say about “assuming”) the doctor was involved and they were looking for ways to empower the individual to have some control over their diagnosis and treatment. In our area, I have not found the doctors able to dig as deep into how care is going at home because they are allocated 15 minutes per appointment with patients. HOWEVER, I wonder with telemedicine being the primary conduit if we won’t find that the doctor can offer more personal in-home suggestions. Another resource I have found that has experience supporting an individual in their home with tools and care plans are Aging Life Care Managers.

      2. True different areas, have diffenet policies and procedures. I live in Australia metrol region, the policy here maybe different compared to were you live. It will be intresting to see how telehealth works out. I am firm beliver in direct pateint care. It is often hard to assess a person over the computer or phone. I will wait to telluf h impact of telehealth before having an opinion. The article was well written.

      3. Thank you. Love the insight and engagement. It seems like Australia might be ahead of the U.S. in treating and responding to dementia.

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