The Impact of COVID19 on Mental Health

Coronavirus has had a huge impact upon people across the globe and people living with dementia are no exception to this.  Lockdowns present a huge challenge as people become extremely lonely and isolated which proves to be detrimental to their mental health.  Although people are being encouraged to embrace virtual communication tools such as Zoom, Facetime etc as a means of staying connected, this can often be daunting for those unfamiliar with technology.

Loneliness

Reducing loneliness is likely to be a little easier than it was during the national lockdown, as you can now get out and about as long as you are adhering to social distancing measures.  Having to miss out on family visits or attending day centres may have made a person feel very isolated, so if appropriate why not have a day out or a socially distanced lunch.  If you are unable to see your loved ones it is important for you to keep in touch with them regularly either by phone, post or set them up to video chat with you.  Keeping that connection to the outside world is vital to a person’s wellbeing and you can worry less knowing they are at ease.

Disruption to Routine

The disruption to routine has also had a significant impact on people living with dementia and without access to day support services and the reduced social contact this has led to behavioural changes and increased anxiety.  Some people are now finding it hard to readjust even with some restrictions lifted, those that might have once took the bus into town once a week are now avoiding this. Others feel very anxious about leaving the house, but they are unable to explain why they feel this way.

Impact Upon Carers

The effects on those who are caring for a loved one living with dementia must not be underestimated either.  For many carers what little respite they might have had was very quickly taken away from them during the first lockdown.  Carers have had to adapt their methods of supporting a person living with dementia and implement different coping strategies.  It may be that the person they care for might struggle with remembering social distancing or face covering requirements, so they have to regularly explain why its necessary and provide prompts and reminders.

Importance of Support

As the situation of the pandemic continues to fluctuate it is paramount that people affected by dementia are able to access support to help alleviate some of their anxieties and give them the confidence to live their lives in the safest possible way. The moment the first lockdown was announced we had to suspend all of our face to face group services and immediately look at how we could offer alternatives means of support to those who needed it.  We put in welfare calls to carers or family members to ensure that they did not feel alone when the caring role may have got even more difficult due to isolation.  We also sent out activity packs to keep people stimulated and engaged, whilst also giving a person living with dementia and their loved ones a fun thing to do together.  We also took our group services virtual and delivered them via Zoom, this enabled people to keep connected with their friends.  At the moment, we have got many of our face to face group services up and running, albeit a little different from usual due to social distancing but we are also providing support to people understanding how to use technology so that in the event of harsher restrictions they are able to access virtual support too.

If you would like any information or advice about the support we can offer you during this time please call 01474 533990 or email info@alz-dem.org

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