Dementia does not make a person more susceptible to COVID-19, but there are many social and regulatory implications of the pandemic, which can take a higher toll on those living with dementia.
In the first place, people who have dementia may be less able to comprehend the nature of the pandemic. It may also be challenging to remember and abide by all the various safeguards that have been rolled out. Living with a mental disorder can be a scary, lonely time—and as we can all relate, so too is COVID. The difficulties of living with one are compounded by the other.
Threat of Infection
People with dementia may not be as astute at recalling the handwashing and mask policies that have become a normal part of everyday life. Although dementia itself doesn’t make one predisposed to COVID, the related behaviour may heighten the risk of contracting it. If contracted, COVID has the potential to induce hypoxia, a state of delirium, which can add to a patient’s discomfort.
Absence of Visitors
Normal visitation has been suspended indefinitely at most supported-living environments and long-term care facilities in order to help limit the spread among the elderly population. The sudden absence of loved ones would be difficult enough, let alone if one didn’t understand or remember why.
Supported-living staff have been giving it their all, working tirelessly to keep up with the changes implemented during quarantine. Though super, they are still human, and long hours, caregiver shortages, and stress can cause anyone to feel burnt out. Despite the best efforts of staff, there is no real substitute for quality, face-to-face human interaction from loved ones. With the lack of visitation and added social distancing measures, people who have dementia may not be getting an optimal amount of social support.
For that reason we strongly recommend that you try to “virtually” visit your loved ones as much as possible and at regular intervals to make up for that lack of physical contact.
The Hamlets at Red Deer, located in Red Deer, Alberta, is at the forefront in the provision of services for those suffering from dementia in an assisted-living environment. The Hamlets at Red Deer has values based on tenets of Christianity and is committed to helping residents attain the highest physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about our Red Deer community, please call us at (403) 986-1250.