Dementia and coronavirus: Eight ways you can help someone with the condition stay safe

Dementia describes a cluster of symptoms associated with brain damage, such as memory loss. People living with the neurological condition tend to require around-the-clock support, especially as the condition progresses. People living with dementia can seem vulnerable at the best of times but the current state of affairs raises particular concern for dementia sufferers.


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Coronavirus, a deadly new strain of virus, has been shown to pose a particular threat to older people living with underlying conditions.

If you are caring for someone with dementia, you may be worried about their safety amid the escalating crisis.

There are some things you can do to help prevent a person living with dementia from catching any germs or viruses, however.

If you need to self-isolate, there are also other ways to support the person with dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, the following tips can help to protect someone with dementia from catching the coronavirus:

  • Check that they have handwash and hand sanitiser available – and that any visitors know to make use of it
  • Clean things that are handled a lot, such as remote controls, door handles and taps
  • If the person or their primary carer is self-isolating, you might help out with practical tasks. The person might need shopping dropped off, medicine collected or some library books left for them – ask how you can help
  • Make sure the person has access to the medication they need. If you or the person with dementia is advised to self-isolate, speak to a GP or local pharmacist to make sure they will have a supply. Keep checking in to make sure they are continuing to take the right medication.
  • Check that they know who to call if they get unwell – leave the number prominently displayed
  • If the person is going to be stuck indoors for a while, encourage them to stay active and consider gentle exercises. Try to make sure they have activities that they can engage in at home as well; reading, magazines, jigsaws, music, knitting, their favourite TV/radio programmes available
  • Keep in touch. If you can’t visit the person, then stay in contact by phone, post, email or Skype. Tell the person that you’re thinking of them and encourage others to do so as well.
  • Make sure that they have our phone number so that they know that we are here to help.

What is the coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a family of respiratory infections and COVID-19 is a new strain of the virus.

Coronavirus symptoms in most people will be mild – a bit like cold or flu.

The main symptoms are:

  • A cough
  • A high temperature
  • Difficulty with breathing (shortness of breath)

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How is the coronavirus spread?

From what we know so far, the virus is spread in cough droplets.

Because it’s a new illness, however, further details about the pathogen are still being confirmed.

To help prevent it from spreading, everyone should follow this advice:

Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds – use soap and water or a hand sanitiser

  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue
  • If you don’t have a tissue use your elbow, not your hands
  • Put used tissues in the bin quickly.


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As of yesterday, the UK government is urging people that have a continuous cough or a high temperature to self-isolate for seven days.

It has specifically advised against going to a GP, pharmacy (chemist) or hospital – this will help protect yourself and others.

As part of the self-isolation effort, it is also important to not use or call the online help service NHS 111 if you show only mild symptoms.

This will ease the pressure of the healthcare system while it attempts to deal with the unfolding crisis.

You should only call NHS 111 if:

  • You feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • Your condition gets worse
  • Your symptoms do not get better after seven days

Coronavirus – UK latest

As of 9am on 13 March 2020, 32,771 people have been tested in the UK, of which 31,973 were confirmed negative and 798 were confirmed as positive.

10 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

Public Health England puts the current risk level in the UK as high.

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