The authors of this paper reviewed the challenges of social isolation due to COVID-19 for community- dwelling older adults with dementia and their caregivers.
In the United States, an estimated 70% of older adults with dementia live in the community setting, while another 26% live alone . Due to disruption of home-care visits from health-care providers during COVID 19, caregivers are taking over providing care such as: tube feeding, injections, home dialysis, colostomy, and catheter care Caregivers do not feel adequately prepared or trained to do so. Caregivers providing 20 or more hours of care weekly, are more likely to experience emotional distress, financial hardship, and physical strain.
Some ways a care taker can better take care of their own mental and physical well-being is to:
- recognize that they need to have a support system such as family or online/phone support groups that allow them to engage in socialization
- consider the use of family members to take care of the person with dementia, allowing for some down time.
- take advantage of community volunteers or delivery services when in need of medication, medical supplies, and groceries .
The authors describe issues related to social isolation that impact both the caregiver and person with dementia and include: decreased structure and routine, overwhelming housework responsibilities, need to create good hygiene practices, and finding ways to stay connected socially. Some ways to combat these issues as a caregiver respectively is to:
- create an at home structure to include activities such as safe exercises using body weight such as chair yoga, going for a drive close to home, online art and cooking classes, and live stream religious services and musical events
- set a home-based goals every day that people with dementia can easily assist with such as organizing closets and cleaning out the freezer
- model good hygiene by wearing a mask and giving verbal and handwritten reminders to provide cues for practices such as washing hands frequently, for at least 20 s with soap and warm water
- facilitate social interactions with family and friends via smartphone and computer applications such as WhatsApp and FaceTime
Loneliness and social isolation has a large impact on mental and physical well-being on both parties and should therefore not be ignored.
Greenberg, N. E., Wallick, A., & Brown, L. M. (2020, June 25). Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions on Community-Dwelling Caregivers and Persons With Dementia. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000793