Coronavirus means that people affected by dementia need Alzheimer’s Society even more than before.
The coronavirus pandemic means people with dementia and carers have been isolated and cut off from usual sources of support.
Thanks to the continued support of our donors, fundraisers and volunteers, we’ve been adapting our services as the situation has changed.
When the lockdown made face-to-face support impossible, we found other ways to stay in touch with the people who need us. We’ve also made sure people know about the aspects of our Dementia Connect service that they can access over the phone or online.
We’ve been making tens of thousands of calls to people we’d usually see in person. This means we’re still here for them and can check how they’re doing, provide advice and information, and see what ongoing help they need.
Samantha Bradley, a Dementia Adviser in the West Midlands, told us about just one of the people she’s supporting through these calls.
‘She has dementia and is living alone, and she misses her family as well as going to regular groups.’ says Samantha.
‘I’ve given her information and reassurance, and made sure she’s having shopping delivered to her home regularly and eating well,’ says Samantha.
‘We discussed how scary things are at the moment, and I explained that it’s normal to feel this way and that we’re here to support her whenever she needs us. She said it’s so lovely to know that people care about her.’
Coronavirus and dementia: How we can help
We can answer queries about all aspects of dementia, and offer advice and support for all associated challenges, including coronavirus.
Ann, who lives in Aberdare in south Wales, cares for her 95-year old mum, Iris, who has Alzheimer’s and lives separately.
‘It can be really hard work with Mum – there’s a lot of pressure,’ says Ann, who hasn’t been able to enter Iris’s home.
However, calls from Dementia Adviser Lindsey Whatley have made a world of difference to Ann.
‘Lindsey phones me regularly to see if I’ve got anything she can help with and answers my questions,’ says Ann.
‘I might be feeling really down but she gives me a bit of hope. Listening to that outside voice is a big help. Her calls make me feel more relaxed. She tells me that, if I ever feel vulnerable, I can just give her a ring.’
Many regular groups have also been keeping in touch through video calls, online events and email.
‘It’s fantastic to see our staff and volunteers finding different ways to make sure we’re still supporting people affected by dementia, even though we cannot be there in person right now,’ says Lindsey.
Chances to chat
Before coronavirus, Hugh Black in County Antrim was supporting two people with dementia through our Side by Side service. Unable to see them in person anymore, he says he jumped at the chance of calling them for a chat instead.
Hugh’s calls cover everything from family and friends to music, food and pets.
‘If my partners get as much from the calls as I get from making them, then they will truly prove to be helpful during this dreadful period,’ he says.
Hugh’s taken on extra calls with a carer and another person with dementia – 77-year old Danny Brown, who has vascular dementia and lives alone.
‘I’ve never met Hugh, but I’ve got to know him,’ says Danny. ‘We never know what the conversation is going to be, but we just float along and laugh – 10 minutes becomes an hour. Hugh gives me space and I go right back in time.’
Because of the support he’s received from us over the years, Danny describes the Society as ‘an extension of my family’.
He says of Hugh’s calls, ‘I’ve got something now that I didn’t have in my life eight to 10 weeks ago. It’s become part of my day.’
Relying even more
The lockdown has meant people have been relying even more on some aspects of our Dementia Connect service, such as our online information, support line and online community, Talking Point.
The support line has had a surge in calls from people needing coronavirus advice, and we’ve updated our website and social media as the situation has changed.
There has also been a huge increase in Talking Point members, as people share advice and experiences with others in similar positions.
One new member, with the username Zebra123, was especially thankful after sharing their upset at not being able to visit their 98-year old mother, who has Alzheimer’s and lives in a care home.
‘I am totally overwhelmed with the kindness and understanding you have shown me,’ they said.
‘Your empathy, tips for handling the situation, and the love and care you have given me is so heart-warming and comforting,’ says Zebra123.
Another member, Sunshine2*, described Talking Point as ‘one big family with lots of knowledge to share’, adding, ‘I truly don’t know what I would do without it.’
Serena Snoad, our Online Community Manager, says, ‘We’re here for everyone and we’re not going to let a pandemic get in the way of people getting the support and connection that they need.’
‘Online and phone support is more important now than ever before,’ says Serena.
We need your help
We can’t keep our phone lines open or manage the increase in demand for our services without urgent financial support. Please donate today – with your help, we can show people living with dementia that they aren’t alone.