Dr. Oz’s mother, who lives in Turkey, has Alzheimer's disease and was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. "It was devastating when I realized I couldn't travel home to take care of her. Although she's on the mend, I'm acutely aware of how overwhelming it is for people with dementia and the people who love them to navigate this unprecedented public health crisis," he explained.
Dementia and a pandemic are a very a difficult combination. Dementia may increase a person's risk for contracting COVID-19 because the safety precautions that help prevent infection are more difficult to follow if you have impaired cognitive function.
In addition, research shows loneliness can make dementia symptoms worse, and social distancing increases loneliness dramatically.
Dr. Oz suggests that if you're a family caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you both will feel better about the challenges posed by the pandemic if you try these techniques:
• Place signs in the bathroom reminding your loved one to wash his or her hands with soap for 20 seconds.
• Stay in touch through calls and video conferencing if you do not live near or with the person. You'll ease isolation and can reinforce the importance of following anti-infection guidelines.
• Think ahead. If you're the primary caregiver, make plans for someone to take over for you in case you get sick.
• If the person with dementia receives home-based services, such as food deliveries or physical therapy, contact the provider to ask about their protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19.