1. What can we do at home to look after ourselves both mentally and physically?
Keeping up to date daily with news of the virus can be overwhelming. Reduce the time you spend listening to the news as this may benefit your mental health. The government and NHS are updated guidance which should give you all the information you need.
It’s important to have a routine where you may do different things in different areas of your house if possible so you can move from activity to activity; read in a different place; watch films and musicals in the living room; listen to the radio in the kitchen; do jigsaw puzzles at the table; take walks around the garden, if you can. Could friends and family leave you books, puzzles or films at your door?
Go outside if you can, fresh air and green space will help lift the spirits and also provide some stimulation. If you can, plant up a few pots with seeds or flowers that can be placed near the windows. Are there any small jobs that need doing, gentle exercise can be a real tonic. It’s a great time to feed the birds. What’s the best food for garden birds? You could learn about all the different types of birds that visit your garden.
2. I look after my husband at home who has dementia and our weekly carer’s group has stopped.
As face to face day centres and support groups have closed, it is so important that you find other ways to give yourself some respite. This may include keeping in contact with members of the day centre or support group via social media, online forums or by phone. Some organisations have support groups like Live Better with Dementia.
3. I’m thinking about care at home for my relative but will the carers be able to keep coming?
Under current guidance, many health care workers will continue to work as per normal. Under current guidance, carers should continue to work as normal, wearing full PPE and following strict infection control procedures. Please see our latest update Covid-19 update
4. I need to go outside to pick up supplies for my relative but I am worried that I might catch the virus.
Your relative will be aware of the advice to stay home to stay at home as much as they can but they might not know help is available if they’re running out of essentials or need to pick up a prescription. Or perhaps they don’t want to bother anybody or be a burden.
Make sure they know that support is available and asking for help will not make them a burden – in fact, it is encouraged for everybody’s sake.
This is where those neighbourhood support schemes and neighbours can come in handy. Local councils and the Government are also coordinating support for the vulnerable and over-70s. The major supermarkets are trying to put more home delivery and Click and Collect slots onto their sites daily so do keep checking this, although we know that these services are very busy and you might not be able to reserve a slot. Some Click & Collect services (non-essential items) are, more recently, being discouraged. Check local websites such as Next Door, In Your Area, as well as your local council for support groups and volunteer networks that are operating in your area.
5. My relative has an underlying health condition. How do I minimise the risk of them going to hospital?
Government advice has now been updated on Shieldingfor those that are ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’.
Please look at the government and NHS guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection, which includes specific information for those living with a vulnerable person and how long periods of self-isolation should last as well as the symptoms to look out for.
Staying physically active during this time will help to keep you mentally and physically well. It can be difficult to explain to a person with dementia why they should wash their hands more frequently, so you could put signs around the house saying that there is a flu outbreak. If you want to go out for a walk pick a quiet time of the day earlier or later on to do so to minimise contact with people. GP surgeries are still supplying repeat prescriptions and most are arranging to have the medication delivered to the person’s home either through NHS volunteers or through a pharmacy scheme. Dementia UK has a good article on Dealing with Restlessness
6. My relative has dementia and we could do with help with our shopping.
You can register your relative as vulnerable on the Government website. There is a link to the registration form in the first paragraph; and people who live in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales can read further guidance on the page. While the register is updated, take a copy of your completed form, either printed or a picture on your phone, so you can show this if you need it. We understand discussions are still ongoing between the retailers and governments across the UK nations to help vulnerable people get access to food deliveries. In the meantime, the government has published this information for people needing support. There may be people who claim they can deliver food shopping during the virus outbreak on the phone in return for their bank card details. Do not provide any details online.
Most telephone providers have a system which can protect people from scam callers. Calls from certain numbers can be blocked, including those from withheld and unrecognised numbers. Contact their telephone provider for details.
7. I am worried about my friend who has dementia, and lives alone. What can I do for them?
Speak to them as often as possible. Explain that there is a serious virus going around, in a simple and straightforward way. Be reassuring and tell them that you will go and see them as soon as you are able. Try and arrange for groceries and repeat prescriptions to be delivered if possible, and for close neighbours to keep an eye out for anything unusual.