We have worked with people affected by dementia to understand the unique challenges they face during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the top five things you can do to support them during this time.
Living with dementia at any time is a challenge for those with the condition and the people close to them.
Many face stigma and isolation in everyday life and coronavirus is making things even harder.
Now more than ever, it is important that people affected by dementia get the help and support they need.
If you are volunteering in your local coronavirus response or supporting a neighbour or friend, these tips are for you.
1. Become a Dementia Friend
There are many misconceptions surrounding dementia. Common examples include the belief that dementia is just about losing your memory or that it’s a natural part of ageing. There’s so much more to the condition and so much more to a person than their dementia.
If you’re helping someone with the dementia, it’s important to have an understanding of the condition and how it can affect them.
Becoming a Dementia Friend simply means finding out more about how dementia affects a person. Armed with this knowledge you can do small everyday things to help.
Become a Dementia Friend online by watching our short 5-minute video or signing up to a more in-depth interactive webinar or live streaming session.
2. Consider how you communicate
Dementia can affect a person’s communication abilities. For example, a person with dementia may forget words or have problems following a conversation.
Each individual will experience dementia in their own way, but there are some simple things that you can do to communicate more effectively in person and on the phone:
- Speak clearly, calmly and at a slightly slower pace if the person is having difficulty understanding.
- Use short, simple sentences.
- Be patient and give the person time to respond.
- Try to avoid asking too many questions, or complicated questions, phrasing them in a way which allows a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
- If you’re supporting somebody in person, stand or sit where the person can see and hear you as clearly as possible, and try to be at eye level.
- If you’re supporting somebody remotely, try to use video calling, so the person can see your facial expressions and body language.
3. Share information about our Dementia Connect support line
You won’t always know that somebody has dementia and it may be a subject the person doesn’t want to discuss, so try to approach this conversation carefully.
We are here for anyone affected by dementia, offering personalised information, support and advice through our Dementia Connect support line 0333 150 3456.
Our dementia advisers are available on the phone to provide the support needed. They can help with things like connecting you to local groups, helping to understand dementia and coping techniques and advice on Lasting Power of Attorney.
You can download the PDF version of this information which includes Dementia Connect support postcards to print, cut out and share with anybody you think might need extra support.
4. Share information about support available to carers
Coronavirus is also adding to the challenges faced by carers. Many may be isolating with a person living with dementia or caring for others from afar.
Somebody may tell you about their caregiving responsibilities and ask for additional support.
We’ve got lots of information they might find useful. You could signpost them to our recent blog post 5 tips for carers to look after your mental health during coronavirus.
You can also advise carers to join Talking Point. It’s our helpful online community where anyone who is affected by dementia can receive valuable support. It’s free, open day or night, and has lots discussion and experiences specific to coronavirus.
5. Share tips on staying busy and active at home
Keeping active and purposeful when staying at home will fight off boredom and frustration. It may also help a person living with dementia retain skills and independence for longer.
If somebody you are supporting tells you they are struggling to stay occupied, there are lots of activities you can suggest:
- If the person enjoys music, BBC Music Memories can help people with dementia reconnect with their most powerful memories.
- If the person has a garden you could encourage them to get outside – read our blog with gardening tips for people affected by dementia.
- Love to Move is a seated gymnastics programme for people living with dementia. You can download a pack from their website to try activities at home.
- Puzzles and games that keep the mind active and engaged can be helpful, and a good distraction from the news. Our online shop has a variety of products specifically for people with dementia.
- You can create home versions of somebody’s favourite sports, like ten pin bowling with plastic bottles, or using rolled up socks to play indoor bowls.
Download our guide on how to support people with dementia in your community
Download this information to pass on to friends and neighbours. This version Includes Dementia Connect support postcards to print, cut out and share with anybody you think might need extra support.