Covid-19 - How you can help

As we unite against Covid-19 and required to self isolate, there’s lots we can do to stop social distancing becoming social isolation. 

Now, more than ever, people with dementia and their care partners need the help and support of family, whānau and friends.

Social distancing and social isolation

Now that we are in a Level 4 Covid-19 alert situation, we are required to stay at home and only make physical or face to face contact with those that we are currently living with.

While people are required to socially distance or self-isolate, we still need to make sure people are kept safe and also well supported, loved and connected.

Both social distancing and self-isolation are likely to have an additional impact on people with dementia:

  • People living with dementia will often have difficulty understanding what is happening
  • They are likely to have difficulty remembering hygiene and social distancing recommendations 
  • Their opportunities for connecting with their usual support networks such as support groups, café clubs and day programmes will no longer be available.

There will also be a significant impact on care partners. Help and support services may no longer be able, including respite care, so they may be feeling increasing levels of loneliness, fatigue, anxiety or stress.

What you can do

Maintaining regular social contact is a great way you can help, and this can still happen even though you cannot be physically close. Here are some tips and suggestions to get you started. 

  • Checking in as often as you can by phone or online. You might like to consider setting up a family or community roster for this.
  • If they are confident using technology, you could use video calling via Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or Zoom
  • See if they have someone to get groceries and supplies for them, if they are not able to do so themselves. If not, and you are able to, then it is important that you leave these outside their home when delivering. It is now understood that the Covid-19 virus can live on surfaces for several days, so you must not do this if you feel at all unwell or if there is any chance you have been exposed to the virus, for example through a family member.
  • If you haven’t already done so you could leave your contact details with neighbours so they can get hold of you if they have any concerns. You will need to ring or email them to do this.
  • If you are not part of their bubble, you could also provide assistance over the phone to help them access online activities if they need it. It also helps to leave people with clear instructions for someone to look back at later on.

Talking to others who you also know are supporting people living with dementia will be helpful too. Check in with each other on a regular basis and share ideas.

Emergency Support Plans

If they don’t already have one, helping someone to prepare an emergency support plan is also a good way you can help. Emergency support plans contain essential information to help the person with dementia and care partner if their routine is disrupted.

You could offer to help them complete their plan by phone or email. 

Get an Emergency Support Plan here

Once the Plan is completed make sure others know about the plan and where is can be found. 

If you are worried about someone

There could be a number of reasons why a care partner or person with dementia doesn’t appear to be coping. You may notice from talking with them over the phone or online that they seem withdrawn, sad, angry, short tempered or appear tired/exhausted. This may be due to:  

  • Fear or anxiety
  • Health concerns or the impact of the changes on wellbeing
  • Stress or conflict within the household
  • Lack of personal space causing fatigue and burn-out
  • Withdrawn or reduced support services and or social interaction with family, whanau and friends

What you can do to support them

  • Talk to them about how they are feeling, ask them what you could do to help
  • Continue to keep in touch by phone or video call
  • Encourage them to do some self-help activities such as meditation, mindfulness, getting out for a walk or into the garden
  • Suggest they take a look at these tips on how to cope with loneliness
  • Remind them that they can call or text 1737 at any time to speak with a trained counsellor, or visit the Mental Health Foundation website for support
  • Encourage them to ring Healthline or their GP, especially if they are looking unwell, have increased agitation or are not eating well.