As the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) situation continues to escalate, it is essential that caregivers of individuals with dementia take extra precautions. Along with your loved one’s health, your health is equally as important. We advise you to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for how to stay safe during this crisis. Below is a comprehensive caregiver tips list built from the guidelines provided by the CDC and other credible research organizations.
Disinfect Household Items: COVID-19 has been shown to live on a variety of surfaces for varying periods of time. For example, COVID-19 can stick to doorknobs, drinking glasses, and silverware for up to 5 days, furniture and other wooden surfaces for up to 4 days, and refrigerators, pans, and stainless steel water bottles for 2 to 3 days. To avoid having the virus affect yourself or your loved one, clean the aforementioned items every day with a 70% alcohol solution. Other frequently touched surfaces including bed frames, desks, sinks, coffee tables, etc. should be wiped down daily as well.
Handwashing Demonstration:The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to avoid touching your face, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. However, it is not enough to merely run your hands under water. Here are the proper steps to wash your hands:
Run your hands under warm or cold water
Apply soap on your hands and lather your wrists, each individual finger, under your nails, your palms, and the backs of your hands
Rub your hands together for 20 seconds. Sing the “ABC” song while doing this for timing help.
Rinse your hands with warm or cold water
Dry your hands
Individuals with dementia may have trouble performing this handwashing technique, so as a caregiver, you should patiently demonstrate this to them. Repetition is key. The more times an individual with dementia sees this handwashing technique, the more likely they are to follow it. When your loved one is washing their hands, you should be present to ensure that they are doing the process properly.
Stock up on Supplies: The CDC recommends to stay inside as much as possible until the quarantine period ends. Make sure that when visiting grocery stores, you buy enough supplies including sanitization materials, food, and toiletries to last you for at least two weeks. There are grocery outlets that are providing food delivery services so that you don’t need to leave your home. For example, services include Walmart Grocery, Safeway, Nob Hill Foods, and Amazon Fresh. Talk to your loved one’s doctor as well to see whether it is possible to get two weeks worth of medication prescription at a time. The less times you step out of the house to run errands, the better it is for the safety of you and your loved one dealing with dementia.
Take Time To Relax: To provide your loved one with the best care possible, you need to be well rested. Make sure that you take at least an hour out of your day to practice self care. The best time to do this would be when your loved one is sleeping. Video call friends and family, exercise, do yoga, or work on a passion project. These activities will help keep you relaxed.
Pay Attention to Your Own Health: If you feel sick, it is best to not come into contact with your loved one dealing with dementia as they are in the most affected group of individuals. Make sure that you have a back up caregiver who can help take care of your loved one in case you fall ill. This individual can be another member of the household or a neighbor.