COVID-19 and Dementia Care

Dear friends of Dementia Spotlight Foundation,

With the continued spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019, also known as COVID-19, in the United States and around the world, we’d like to share some helpful hints and practical tips for Persons living with Dementia (PwDs) and their caregivers/care partners. A special thanks to William T. Hu, MD, PhD, Associate Professor Department of Neurology, Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine for his assistance with these guidelines.

We also want to assure you that we are honoring the CDC, state and local recommendations to suspend all of our in-person education classes and trainings through the end of March. We will reassess next steps and rescheduling of cancelled events at a later time as the restrictions continue to change rapidly over time.

Please be considerate of your neighbors during this overwhelming and chaotic time, especially those who are older or live alone. Though it is imperative for us all to practice social distancing, also be mindful of the isolation it may cause.

We will continue to offer our virtual Memory Cafes and will be adding a virtual Caregiver Support Group beginning Tuesday, March 24th at 11:00 am EST in effort to help people keep connected and decrease social isolation. Please visit the Dementia Support Groups section under Programs on our website, https://dementiaspotlightfoundation.org/dementia-support-groups/ , for more information regarding our virtual support groups or contact Vince Zangaro at vince@dementiaspotlightfoundation.org.

Here are some helpful hints and practical tips for Persons living with Dementia (PwDs) and their care partners living at home or in independent living. This general advice does not apply to everyone and does not constitute professional medical guidelines. Please contact your doctor if you have questions about your specific situation.

1. Remember that older (60+) adults are very vulnerable to COVID19 virus. Even if their younger care partners (adult children, paid help) are healthy, these younger people can carry the virus without knowing it or having mild symptoms not dissimilar to seasonal allergies. For now, frequently clean surfaces accessed by PwD with cleaners/wipes known to kill the virus. Care partners should also wash hands with soap or use hand sanitizer frequently, and consider wearing mask & gloves if there is any symptom of cough, sore throat, or mild fever.

2. Many communities have recommended social distancing to reduce the number of people who are sick at any given time. Because older people are more vulnerable to COVID19, they should stay home as much as possible. However, they can still exercise in their yards multiple times a day, take walks in the early morning when there are few others around, keep the lights on from 7AM to 6PM, and stay physically active during the day (e.g., engage them to help with cleaning). This will ensure they still get tired to sleep through the night.

3. Taking care of someone else at a time like this will challenge your own health. If you know other care partners, set up a phone tree/network to check on each other & health and well-being. Make a plan for what to do if the PwD & primary care partner gets sick.

4. Many clinics are cancelling appointments which are not urgent or emergent. If you take prescription medicines, make sure you have a 90-day supply.

5. Because people are staying home and regular clinical appointments are cancelled, some clinics may have many people suspected of having COVID19. If PwD needs to be seen by their regular doctor in person, call ahead to see if there is a time/location for people not suspected of having COVID19.

6. A lot of doctors’ visits may be conducted over the computer or tablet in the next few months. Make sure you have a reliable computer/tablet available to communicate with doctors for the PwD, and practice using some of the programs (e.g., Zoom, Skype) by speaking with your family/friends.

7. If you anticipate that there is a need to physically go to a clinic or the Emergency Room, staff there may be dressed in protective gear which can increase anxiety for PwD. Watching people in similar gear on TV can also worsen anxiety. Consider preparing a picture-card at home with someone dressed up in protective gear, and introduce this imagery to PwD as a friendly reminder that they are there to help.

8. Many schools have cancelled classes, and sometimes PwDs and school-aged children are cared by the same family members. If possible, consider having PwDs and school-aged children at physically different locations. If this is not possible, consider having one family member dedicated to helping the PwD .

9. In-person religious services involving others (e.g., church, temple) increase the chance of spreading the virus. There are many TV-based religious services which can be considered. Otherwise, ask your religious leaders about the possibility of conducting phone/internet-based services.

10. If you feel that the PwD is sick with something concerning for PwD, first consider recovery at home with hydration and treatment of fever. If there is a cough, call your doctor and follow their guidance which may include trying a cough suppressant or a short clinical visits. COVID19 testing still has very long lines, and use your best judgement if you are advised to go to one of the testing sites.

11. Consider limiting news broadcasts intake into your home to help decrease anxiety levels and/or confusion or PwDs.

Other important resources:
Local Health Department websites
CDC especially:
https://www.cdc.gov/aging/covid19-guidance.html

Georgia Department of Health:
https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus

Florida Department of Health:
http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/need-to-know/index.html

Wishing you and your family good health. As always, if there is anything we can help with, please let us know.

All our best,

The Dementia Spotlight Foundation Team

You’re invited to join our free virtual education summit on Wednesday, April 15th at 11:00 am EST. Please click below for more information and to register.

In an effort to help people keep connected and decrease social isolation during these times, we are excited to offer weekly virtual caregiver support groups every Tuesdays and Thursday at 11:00 am EST. For more information and to register click below.

A new way forward…

Stay up to date with our events and resources.

In taking safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have postponed all March events. Please check back for updates, and go HERE for COVID-19 guidance for older adults. 

OUR VISION

Dementia Spotlight Foundation envisions a world that does not fear dementia and fully embraces the rights and needs of individuals and families living with dementia. We aim to raise awareness about dementia with the goal of helping people and communities to better understand it.

OUR MISSION

Dementia Spotlight Foundation is dedicated to supporting lives through advocacy, the arts, and dementia education. We are committed to educating both family and professional caregivers about dementia-related diseases and enhancing the supports and standards of care needed. There are over 120 medical diagnoses leading to symptoms of dementia & the journey of dementia differs for each person depending on age, health, and the type of dementia diagnosis.

OUR FOCUS

Due to the complexity of dementia and the stigmas and fears associated with it, there is still an extreme lack of funding, education, and resources available for individuals and caregivers who need them. While research is thriving and we all hope for a cure, the fact remains: 5.4 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. With a focus on LIFE before loss, RIGHTS before research, and CARE before cure, we support the notion that life does not end after a dementia diagnosis and not all abilities are lost. There is life AFTER diagnosis and there is a way forward. Dementia Spotlight Foundation strives to identify service needs and establish approaches to fill those gaps for those families facing a dementia diagnosis. Dementia Spotlight Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Private Operating Foundation established in 2016.

We’ve been training first responders for the past five years on Dementia Awareness.

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Upcoming Events

April 2020
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March 30, 2020 March 31, 2020

10:00 am: POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE - Dementia Spotlight Educational Seminar

10:00 am: POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE - Dementia Spotlight Educational Seminar
April 1, 2020 April 2, 2020 April 3, 2020 April 4, 2020

10:00 am: Dementia Spotlight Memory Cafe: Caregiver SOS

10:00 am: Dementia Spotlight Memory Cafe: Caregiver SOS
April 5, 2020
April 6, 2020 April 7, 2020

3:00 pm: Dementia Spotlight Educational Seminar

3:00 pm: Dementia Spotlight Educational Seminar
April 8, 2020

10:30 am: Dementia Spotlight Memory Cafe

10:30 am: Dementia Spotlight Memory Cafe
April 9, 2020 April 10, 2020 April 11, 2020 April 12, 2020
April 13, 2020 April 14, 2020

8:00 am: Cecil County Annual Caregivers Conference

8:00 am: Cecil County Annual Caregivers Conference
April 15, 2020 April 16, 2020 April 17, 2020 April 18, 2020 April 19, 2020
April 20, 2020 April 21, 2020 April 22, 2020 April 23, 2020 April 24, 2020 April 25, 2020 April 26, 2020
April 27, 2020 April 28, 2020 April 29, 2020 April 30, 2020 May 1, 2020

10:00 am: Dementia Spotlight Memory Cafe: Caregiver SOS

10:00 am: Dementia Spotlight Memory Cafe: Caregiver SOS
May 2, 2020 May 3, 2020