Caring for a person with dementia when pandemic restrictions are eased

Advice about supporting a person who has dementia as coronavirus restrictions change.

Question:

‘How can I help my ex-wife, who has dementia, ease out of coronavirus restrictions as these change?’

Answer:

Measures to control the pandemic – from individual shielding and areas moving between tiers to full lockdown – have been affecting people with dementia in many different ways.

The more common effects include depression or anxiety, loss of confidence or withdrawal due to lack of social interaction, and disorientation with changes in routine.

Old routines

For many people, the process of coming out of restrictions will involve reconnecting with the world and getting back to some form of normality.

It might be helpful to look at what your ex-wife’s daily routine used to be, and then slowly trying to reintroduce the things she used to do.

You may need to adapt things slightly for her too. For example, going to a day centre for short periods and building up to the length of time she is comfortable with, or going out for a walk a few times before going into any shops.

A new normal

Bear in mind that some of your ex-wife’s difficulties may be due to the progression of her dementia, which sadly can’t be reversed. Similarly, someone who has lost skills during the pandemic might not always be able to relearn them.

This may mean that your ex-wife isn’t able to get fully back to doing the same things that she used to. However, adaptations can be made to help people to live as well as possible with the skills they do have.

Getting help

If your ex-wife is depressed or anxious, talking therapies such as counselling could allow her to talk freely about how she feels with a professional and find useful ways forward. The effectiveness of talking therapies will depend on how progressed her dementia is.

With any changes in behaviour or skills, the most effective way to support your ex-wife will depend on the type of her dementia, how far it’s progressed and how it’s affecting her. It will also depend on her individual personality and life history. There could be a lot of trial and error.

You can discuss the specifics of the situation with an adviser on our Dementia Connect support line, and with others who’ve faced similar challenges on our online community, Talking Point.

Difficulties won’t always need coronavirus- specific answers. For example, our online and printed information about depression and anxiety should give you enough to know more about talking therapies and how to find a counsellor.

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.

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Dementia together magazine: Feb/Mar 21

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now

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