Explaining the enhanced safe distancing measures that are mandated by the government can be difficult for seniors who are used to daily trips out of the house, especially if they don’t understand why these measures are in place.
With the circuit breaker in place, it can be hard to explain to your loved ones why they can’t go out when it isn’t essential, especially if the daily trips are part of their regular routine. Unfortunately, this is a challenge that has to be tackled. Here’s some of the ways you can try and remind your loved ones with dementia to stay home, and how to respond if they’re resistant to the idea.
If your loved one has mild dementia and is still able to act independently, try to explain the current situation in a clear way to keep them informed, and remind them about the government’s advisory to stay at home. You can refer to the tips under “Sharing of COVID-19 information with persons with dementia” at alz.org.sg/covid19.
For those who are literate, you can provide visual reminders such as notes about the COVID-19 situation near the main door, as well as a reminder that the government has released an advisory for everyone to stay at home and that you should only go out for essential services. Keep this information succinct and easy to read. Visit https://www.gov.sg/article/covid-19-resources and look for the section titled “Posters on COVID-19” for informative and clear posters that you can use.
If these methods of convincing do not seem to work, it might be necessary to try and convince your loved one on a more emotional level. Ask them what their reasons for wanting to go out are, so that you can respond to their feelings and thoughts and appeal to these while trying to get them to understand that it’s something that we have to try and work with during this period. Try to come up with workarounds that will help them feel less restless in the home; perhaps do a simple home disco session with them so they can work through some of that restlessness while taking the opportunity to bond.
You might also wish to note if there’s a pattern to the time at which they normally ask to go out, and divert their attention by engaging them in a different activity before that period in order to distract their thoughts from wanting to go out. Alternatively, you could get a family member that they are more inclined to agree with to talk to them and convince them.
If you’re still living with your family member with dementia, you can take your loved one out for some fresh air and a short walk at nearby parks so that there’s a break to the monotony of staying indoors. Try to do so at timings when it’s not too hot or crowded. You can check the crowd levels at https://safedistparks.nparks.gov.sg/.
If your loved one is still keen or insistent to go out, remind them that it is compulsory to wear a mask outside of your home. Avoid letting them go out unaccompanied, and if it is logistically impossible to go out with them, make sure that you are able to keep in contact and keep track of their whereabouts. Ensure that they have a Safe Return Card* on them when they leave the house, or put a piece of paper with your name and contact number in their pocket or in a lanyard around their neck, should they get lost and encounter enforcement officers. When they come home, help to make sure that they wash their hands thoroughly.
For more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Dementia Helpline at 6377 0700, Monday to Friday (9am to 6pm).
*UPDATE: Effective 19 March 2021, the Safe Return Card will discontinue. If you are interested in the new platform and wish to enjoy the current benefits and more, please write to us at email@example.com with subject “Safe Return Card”.