Pathways Issue 4: COVID-19 and Seniors' Health - Page 18

For seniors living with dementia, Dr. Mark
Fok offers his advice on how to adapt to
the challenges presented by the COVID-19
outbreak, and how caregivers and families
can keep them safe and supported.
Does living with dementia increase
a person’s risk of getting COVID-19?
Dementia in and of itself is not a risk factor for a
person getting COVID-19. However, people living with
dementia may forget to practise important public
health measures, such as frequent hand-washing or
appropriate physical distancing, which may increase
their risk for contracting COVID-19.
How can I explain to my mother
who lives with dementia that she
may need to change her daily routine
during the outbreak?
Older adults with dementia often understand what
is going on in the news, and many are aware of the
COVID-19 outbreak. They may forget or have limited
insight and judgement when it comes to changing
daily routines and interactions, so it is important to
provide frequent reminders with simple messages.
Whether it be a phone call reminder to “stay at
home so you don’t get sick” or leaving sticky-notes
on doors to “wash hands,” keep the messages
consistent, clear and simple.
My father lives with dementia and I
check in on him twice a day. Should I
stop visiting him during the outbreak?
It’s really important to maintain contact with family who
live with dementia. Ideally, this can be done by phone or
through technology. Practically, however, this may not
always be possible as people with dementia often rely
on family members to manage living at home.
If you have to visit a person with dementia to drop
off groceries or to do a wellness check, keep these
points in  mind:
• Don’t visit if you are sick or unwell
• Wash your hands thoroughly before and after visiting
• Maintain physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet),
where possible
• Keep visits shorter
• Consider wearing a non-medical face mask
during the visit
What steps can I take to help keep
my father with dementia safe — and
supported — during the outbreak?
• Touch base frequently by phone or video
• Post reminders to wash hands
• Ensure the house is stocked with adequate
groceries and supplies
• Remind them to try and limit watching or reading
the news to once or twice a day, as it may be
overwhelming
• Help them establish a different indoor routine
within the house, such as chair exercises, yoga,
reading or meditation