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 very 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 leaving home and meeting people are now slightly different across the UK (see below), but they all help to limit close contact with people from outside your household as much as possible. 

In England the rules are now similar to those of the first national lockdown in March 2020. You must stay at home and not mix with anyone from another household, indoors or outdoors. The exception is someone in your support bubble.

You can now leave home only for certain reasons, including:

  • to shop – for essential items like food and medicine, for you or a vulnerable person
  • to exercise outdoors – with your household/support bubble or one other person, and limited to once per day
  • for a medical need – including medical appointments or to get a coronavirus test
  • to provide care – such as to a vulnerable or disabled person
  • to visit someone in a care home, hospital or hospice
  • to escape the risk of harm
  • to work or volunteer – where you cannot do this from home
  • for communal worship, a wedding or funeral (subject to the rules on those).

The rules are similar but not identical in Wales and in Northern Ireland, so check the specific guidance about going out for the area where you live. 

Restrictions by country

Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more. 

What are the rules where are 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 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 and being extremely careful if 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 07 January 2021

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