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

As coronavirus continues to bring changes and challenges 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 an 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). 

Some people will have symptoms that last for months beyond the virus infection, known as long COVID.

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 latest medical advice to protect yourself and others. 

Latest NHS advice

Advice for everyone

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

Changes to the government guidance on restrictions can be confusing, but it’s important to focus on not catching or spreading the virus.

The important steps remain, and 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)

  • meeting outdoors or letting fresh air in.   

Currently, the number of people going into hospital with COVID-19 is much lower than it has been. If this trend continues, there are plans to further relax the rules across the UK on leaving home and meeting people.

This gradual easing of restrictions has been made possible by the national vaccination programme, by more widespread testing and by people following guidance during national lockdowns.

Advice is slightly different across the UK (see below), but it all helps to limit close contact with people from outside your household. 

In England the emphasis is still on staying safe. We should continue to be careful, minimise the amount that we travel and follow the rules when out and about.

The virus is transmitted much less outside, so, from 12 April, the guidance now allows you to:

  • visit all shops, not just those selling essential products
  • go to a hairdresser, nail/beauty salon or similar
  • visit a library, community centre or other public building
  • have a drink and meal at a restaurant, pub or café – outdoors and with table service only (with up to six people or two households)
  • go to a funeral service - with now a maximum 30 people attending indoors
  • go to a wedding – with up to 15 people in attendance
  • stay in self-contained accommodation in England – with your household or support bubble.

Other reasons to leave home are already allowed, for example: 

  • for a medical need, caring or visiting someone (in a care home, hospital or hospice), or for work or volunteering
  • outdoor exercise
  • outdoor sports facilities such as golf courses, tennis courts or open-air swimming pools.

The rules and timelines are broadly similar in Wales and in Northern Ireland, so check the specific guidance about going out for the area where you live. 

All these rules apply equally, whether you have had the COVID-19 vaccine or not.

Restrictions by country

Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more. 

What are the rules where I live?

Even when following the rules, 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 at quieter times where you are able to. 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. This is because people with dementia and older people in general are at higher risk of severe illness if they catch coronavirus.

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