Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease During this Pandemic

What More Do I Need to Know?

What does and does not raise the risk of getting COVID-19?

  • Alzheimer’s disease does NOT put the person at higher risk of getting COVID-19.
  • But, older age, forgetful behavior, and having other chronic conditions such as heart or lung disease, or diabetes DOES raise the risk.
  • And, people living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia may FORGET how to do the things needed to stay safe from COVID-19. Forgetting can be risky.
What to do to help with forgetting

Show the person how to wash hands well. You may need to show the person more than once. This includes:

  • Washing hands often and always after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Washing hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds. 
  • Put up signs in the bathroom and other places around the house with a reminder about how and when to wash their hands. 
  • Keep hand sanitizer around the house. Hand sanitizer can be used if the person cannot get to a sink or wash his or her hands easily.
What to do to lessen anxiety

Reduce the time spent watching the news.

  • The news reports on COVID-19 may make most people feel anxious, but the stress for people living with dementia may be worse. 
  • People with dementia feel overwhelmed and mixed up by all that is going on around them. The current news of the pandemic may make this worse. 

Try to do enjoyable things:

  • People with dementia are most content when they are able to do things they enjoy. The Alzheimer’s Association refers to this as keeping the person with dementia content and involved. 
  • However, you may find it harder to keep the person you care for content and involved during the stay-at-home order. And with the news coverage and family talk about COVID-19, it is important to keep people with dementia content and involved in something they enjoy!

What to be aware of

  • If people with dementia are not involved, they may become bored and withdrawn.
  • If people with dementia get too much stimulation they may become “wound-up” and hard to manage.
  • The person you care for may have enjoyed doing things outside the home that cannot be done right now. 

What you can do

  • Try to find new things to do that bring them peace and enjoyment. 
What to do if confusion increases suddenly

Call the doctor for advice.

  • Confusion that increases rapidly is often a sign of infection or illness, for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. 
Where to turn for caregiving help
  • You can call the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County at 800-272-3900, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Copy adapted from the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County