Coronavirus

Living with dementia at any time brings everyday challenges for the person and those around them. Coronavirus is making daily life much harder. You may feel anxious, scared or lonely. But you are not alone – help is available. 

During the coronavirus pandemic we have advice and practical tips for people living with dementia and those supporting them – either in the same household or from a distance.

We will update this information regularly, including details of support and services from Alzheimer's Society. This will help you get through this difficult time, so do come back to see what’s available. 

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What is coronavirus? 

Coronavirus causes a new illness (COVID-19) that mainly affects your lungs and airways.

Symptoms in most people will be mild – a high temperature or new continuous cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste. Some people will also have difficulty with breathing (shortness of breath). 

A few people with COVID-19 will get severe symptoms and need medical attention. Older people and those with a long-term health condition (for example, lung disease, heart failure, diabetes) or a weakened immune system (for example, because of HIV or chemotherapy) are more likely to get worse symptoms. These are people who are offered the regular flu jab every year in the autumn.

The higher-risk groups for severe coronavirus illness include almost everyone with dementia, and many older family carers. 

NHS advice on coronavirus

Visit the NHS website for the lastest medical advice to protect yourself and others. 

Latest NHS advice

Advice for everyone 

We must do all we can to fight coronavirus. It spreads easily between people and not everyone with coronavirus infection has obvious symptoms.

Government guidance on restrictions (or ‘lockdowns’) can seem confusing, but we can all focus on not catching or spreading the virus. The important steps, for everyone everywhere, are:

  • regular hand washing

  • wearing a face covering when inside public places (except when eating or drinking) 

  • social distancing (two metres where possible).  

The rules on meeting up, pubs and restaurants are now different across the UK (see below), but they all help to limit close contact with people from outside your household as much as possible. 

All of England is now divided into one of three COVID alert levels or tiers according to how much coronavirus is spreading. Each level means there are specific rules for that area. You can find detailed guidance for your area on gov.uk – some of the restrictions are shown below.

Tier 3 (very high alert)

  • You must not mix with anyone outside your household or support bubble indoors, or in private or pub gardens
  • Up to six people can meet in outdoor public spaces such as a park, public garden or countryside
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes can open for takeaway or delivery only
  • Travel into or out of the area should be avoided.

Tier 2 (high alert)

  • There should be no meeting indoors with anyone outside your household or support bubble
  • Up to six people can meet in a garden or outdoor public space
  • Pubs and bars can only open to serve alcoholic drinks with a substantial meal
  • Travel to or from a tier 3 area should be avoided.

Tier 1 (medium alert)

  • Up to six people or one household can meet indoors and outdoors
  • Pubs and restaurants can open to provide table service only and close at 11.00 pm (last orders 10.00 pm).
Restrictions by country

Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more. 

What are the rules where are I live?

The rules are different again in Wales (where local restrictions apply) and Northern Ireland, so check the specific guidance about going out for the area where you live. 

In all countries (and all tiers in England) you can still;

  • go outdoors to exercise 

  • go out for a medical need – including to provide care, attend hospital appointments or to help a vulnerable person 

  • go out to escape risk of harm 

  • go to places such as shops, hairdressers, gyms and visitor attractions where open – but you must follow the extra rules there 

  • visit places of worship open for safe services or private prayer 

  • travel for work – but you should try to work from home if you can.  

Even when doing these, social distancing means keeping two metres (three steps) away from anyone not in your household wherever we can. This isn’t always possible, especially indoors. If this is the case, keeping a one metre distance with extra precautions such as extra ventilation or a face covering is allowed (not in Wales or Northern Ireland). 

Use public transport only if your journey is essential. A face covering should be worn on public transport and in shops (our blog post explains the law on this in different countries), where it’s harder to keep two metres away from people.

These rules apply to everyone, although people with dementia and those living with them should follow the rules particularly closely. They should take extra care to limit contact with others outside their household. Staying at home more and being very careful when out is the easiest way to do this. This is because people with dementia and older people in general are at higher risk of severe illness if they catch coronavirus.   

Last updated 02 November 2020

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