How To Be An Effective Caregiver When Senior Facilities Are On Lockdown
We have all been adjusting as best we can to living with a global pandemic. However, many of our clients have suddenly found themselves as the primary caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other illnesses who were waiting to be admitted to a senior facility. Or another scenario is that some of our clients have loved ones in senior facilities that they can no longer visit since all senior facilities throughout the country have been placed on lockdown.
While some senior facilities are still accepting patients, many families are not willing to admit them due to the fact that COVID has been spreading like wildfire through these facilities. According to a recent article in USA Today.com more than 16,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/23/nursing-homes-taking-new-patients-coronavirus-cases-soar/5229558002/
The unexpected demands being placed on home caregivers can be challenging under normal circumstances. But these are anything but normal circumstances. And, while neither dementia nor Alzheimer’s is specifically a risk for COVID-19, any more than they are increased risks for getting the flu, there are behaviors that can lead to increased risks. For instance, people with dementia may forget to wash their hands or take other precautions to prevent the illness. And, of course, typically, though not always, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are older, so the age alone can be the greater risk factor for getting the virus.
I’ve provided a few tips from Alzheimer’s Association below. You may be well-served by visiting their website for ideas covering pretty much every conceivable circumstance caregivers are facing during COVID-19. I hope the few tips below are helpful.
- 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 handwashing.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a quick alternative to handwashing 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.