Tips for Dementia Caregivers

by Lesley Jenkins, Alzheimer’s Association Regional Executive for Northern Arizona

As communities and care services begin reopening, it is important for caregivers to consider the risks and take additional safety precautions for people living with dementia. 

Caregivers of individuals living with Alzheimer’s and all other dementia should follow these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control:

1. For people living with dementia, increased confusion is often the first symptom of other illness. If this person shows rapidly increased confusion, contact your health care provider for advice. 

Unless the person is having difficulty breathing or a very high fever, it is recommended that you call your health care provider instead of going directly to an emergency room. Your doctor may be able to treat the person without a visit to the hospital.  

2. People living with dementia may need extra and/or written reminders and support to remember important hygienic practices from one day to the next. Consider placing signs in the bathroom and elsewhere to remind people with dementia to wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds. Demonstrate thorough hand washing.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a quick alternative to hand washing if the person with dementia cannot get to a sink or wash his/her hands easily.

3. Ask your pharmacist or doctor about filling prescriptions for a greater number of days to reduce trips to the pharmacy.

4. Think ahead and make alternative plans for the person with dementia should adult day care, respite, etc. be modified or canceled in response to COVID-19.

5. Finally, think ahead and make alternative plans for care management if the primary caregiver should become sick.

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