The circumstances that have come to be as a result of COVID-19 are extraordinary indeed, and explaining the situation to our loved ones with dementia can be difficult. Follow these tips to keep from overloading your loved one with information, while keeping them in the know.
Getting started on sharing the latest COVID-19 information with persons with dementia can be daunting, especially with the number of updates there are each day, but by keeping to these simple guidelines, you’ll be able to keep your loved ones aware of the circumstances, navigate their reactions, and help them come to terms with the current situation.
The first and most important step is to communicate information to your loved one in a way that is clear and simple to understand. Avoid using too much jargon, and try to relate to the situation with examples that they will easily be able to understand. The use of visual aids such as videos can also be a great help with this step.
Keeping your loved one informed does not mean having to inundate them with every single piece of information out there. Try keeping what you share to the bare essentials; focus on daily hygiene and other pieces of information that will affect their daily life and that they should know, like how it is mandatory to wear a mask when going out now. There isn’t a need to go into details like the exact number of cases each day, as long as they are aware that it is a serious situation and that taking extra precautions is a necessity.
It can be difficult to avoid news and videos on COVID-19 when they show up on television or are shared by family members, so take extra care to note if they appear confused or distressed when they are watching or reading through different COVID-19 media. If they do appear distressed, step in to divert your loved one’s attention through the use of another activity, or switch off the television and encourage them to do something else.
While you will want to try and divert their attention and distract your loved one from their distress, it’s important to be ready to take the time to listen to your loved ones talk about their concerns and validate their feelings, as well as to provide them with reassurance. Ignoring the problem will not go away, and if they are showing signs of stress, it is best to take control of the situation by acknowledging it and doing what you can to make improvements, rather than ignore it and let it fester.
For more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Dementia Helpline at 6377 0700, Monday to Friday (9am to 6pm).