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Ozarks Tonight: Alzheimer’s care during a pandemic

Ozarks Tonight: Alzheimer’s care during a pandemic
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April 14, 2020
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Ozarks Tonight: Alzheimer’s care during a pandemic

Social distancing guidelines have us all at home and it can be difficult enough to change your routine if you and your family are healthy. But this adds a layer of concern and care for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s and their caretakers.

In this Ozarks Tonight, Jenifer Abreu talks to Kristen Hilty, a care consultant with the Alzheimer’s Association, about how a stay-at-home order, social distancing and the response to the coronavirus outbreak has impacted the organization and the families it serves.

Hilty says just like most businesses and organizations the Alzheimer’s Association is working from home, providing many services they have before but just via phone or online, for example, education offerings and support groups are still taking place over phone calls.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s nationwide support groups are also available anywhere across the country, something that wasn’t available before.

Hilty says dementia itself does not increase a person’s risk to contract the virus, but some of the risk factors might contribute to complications. For example, most individuals with dementia are older, an age group that’s more at risk for some of the more serious side effects of the virus. 

The Alzheimer’s Association says “people with Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementia may forget to wash their hands or take other recommended precautions to prevent illness. In addition, diseases like COVID-19 and the flu may worsen cognitive impairment due to dementia.

People living with dementia may need extra and/or written reminders and support to remember important hygienic practices from one day to the next.”

Hilty says to consider putting up signs in the bathroom as a reminder to wash hands for 20 seconds and demonstrate what should be done and how. Of course, alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is also an option. 

What happens if someone with Alzheimer’s or their caretaker gets sick?

Hilty says the symptoms can be masked, so it’s important to pay attention to a sudden change in behavior, and as is common for coronavirus, check if there’s a fever. If these are present, call your doctor. 

In case the caregiver gets socks, Hilty says you should have a plan in place before that even happens. That includes having someone lined up who can be a caregiver, make sure all instructions are detailed for them, and get prescriptions filled up to 90 days.

More resources: 
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