Information for People Affected by Dementia during the Coronavirus Outbreak | Howells Solicitors
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Information for People Affected by Dementia during the Coronavirus Outbreak

Howells Solicitors

01 Apr, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways.

The symptoms in most victims has reported to be mild, featuring a high temperature and a persistent cough. Some people will also have difficulty with breathing, causing a shortness of breath.

Older people, and those with a long-term health conditions or weakened immune system, are more likely to get worse symptoms.

To prevent catching or spreading the virus, the law now says that everyone must stay at home.

The only reasons to leave your home now are:

  • shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine
  • one form of exercise
  • a medical need, to provide care or help a vulnerable person
  • travelling to and from work

These rules apply to everyone in the UK, however the most vulnerable, including those suffering with dementia, are likely to have been self-isolating for a longer period already.

Helping Someone with Dementia

Dementia sufferers are more likely to be at a higher risk of catching the coronavirus, and potentially becoming seriously ill. Therefore it’s important that they stay inside and self-isolate. However this means that they may be alone for long periods of time locked away in their home. It’s important that the following are considered:

Mental health – The number of victims of the coronavirus is likely to rise. This may cause heightened anxiety and stress, especially if someone is constantly watching the news for updates. A good plan is to make sure that the news is only looked at regularly times per day to relieve anxiety, and stay away from none official news sources that may be spreading inaccurate or fake news.  The NHS ‘Every Mind Matters’ website has good advice and tips for coping with stress and anxiety while at home. The Alzheimer’s Society’s advice on anxiety and depression may also be helpful.

Staying active – Keeping active when staying at home will help fight off boredom and frustration. It may also help the person retain skills and independence for longer. The Government has stated that people are allowed to leave their home for one form of exercise per day and people isolating should take advantage of this. Love to Move is a seated gymnastics programme for people living with dementia. You can download the pack to try activities at home. You can still use your garden if you have one.

Food, medicine and other essentials – A vulnerable person will need to ensure that they have enough food and medicine available for isolation and their GP or local pharmacist can help make sure they have a supply. Medication can either be posted or made available for someone to collect. If someone else is collecting medication they should ring or knock, then use the letterbox or leave it safely outside the person’s home.

The same rules apply to other essentials like food and household supplies. These can be ordered online for home delivery – supermarkets are putting deliveries for vulnerable people first.

Keeping Busy – Smartphones, laptops, tablets and games consoles offer a variety of ways to pass the time and keep people engaged and stimulated.

Virtual assistant devices (for example Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant) can be useful and provide entertainment and information. See other information (for people living with dementia) on assistive technology for more details on this.

If listening to music is more appropriate, BBC Music Memories can help people with dementia reconnect with their most powerful memories. The site also has BBC Memory Radio and these are also available on BBC Sounds – just search for Memory Radio.

You could make a playlist of favourite songs and music. Playlist for Life has information about music and dementia, and advice about how and when to listen to it.

Apps that are available are:

  • clevermind – has speech recognition, large buttons and fonts, games and quizzes
  • Lumosity – has activities and games
  • MindMate – has a TV and music section, games and a life story section
  • TheColor – do colouring online and save, print or email it to friends and family
  • Flower Garden – build a virtual garden by planting seeds and create flower bouquets
  • Pocket Pond – feed and catch fish, and customise nature effects.

Puzzles and games that keep the mind active and engaged can be helpful, and a good distraction from the news. You can have puzzle books and jigsaws delivered to your home, or you can download other apps, to smart devices, which have a number of puzzles for free.

Keep Informed – There are a number of community support groups available including Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK and NHS. Make sure someone who has Dementia, or a career, is aware of the support available in the local area. This includes numbers for help lines. It may also be a good idea to print out the Government guidance on hand washing so they can remind themselves.

‘Third party mandate’ – Ask a person with Dementia whether having a ‘third party mandate’ – where you have temporary access to the person’s bank account – would help with banking and paying for deliveries online.

If a person with dementia lives alone and is known to Alzheimer’s Society, they will be get in touch with a ‘welfare’ phone call. A trained member of staff or volunteer – possibly someone already known to them – will call them to check on their wellbeing, and offer expert dementia information and advice.

Keeping affairs in order – Now may be a good time to deal with important tasks which we may have put off, like evaluating your possessions, reviewing your financial planning and investments, making a Will and/or nominating a Lasting Power of Attorney. These tasks will help relieve anxiety by making sure your money and possessions are kept safe, no matter what, and your family’s futures are protected.

Be aware of scammers – Scared, vulnerable older people are being preyed on by criminals using a range of coronavirus scams to burgle, rob and potentially harm them, police and support groups have warned. These have included individuals pretending to be members of the NHS, Police or other public sector bodies, and have gained entry to people’s homes, then stealing from. Other issues have arisen from email and text message scams, preying on individuals who are confused and scared.

You can find more leaflets and information on supporting people with Dementia here.

Our Wills, Trusts & Probate team are Dementia Friendly trained, and can support you to protect your estate and your family’s future. You can make a telephone appointment by contacting us on:

Sheffield0114 249 66 66

Barnsley0122 680 51 90

Rotherham0170 936 40 00

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