21st January 2021
The coronavirus continues to devastate the lives of many, but for those living with dementia, this past year has been an incredibly scary time full of change and uncertainty.
In this article we take a look at four areas of importance for those caring for someone with dementia or concerned about the welfare of a loved one who is in a care home – namely, communication, confusion, care and consent.
We share some considerations for supporting loved ones with dementia during the ongoing pandemic and also look at how carers or relatives can deal with their upcoming vaccination.
On the whole, people with dementia tend to be over the age of 65 and will often be hard of hearing either as a direct result of their dementia or due to old age.
Talking through windows, screens or behind face masks and PPE can cause communication problems. To overcome this, whilst still protecting your loved ones, it is important to think about your tone of voice, body language and non-verbal means of communication.
Using flash cards, simple sign language, drawing or writing can assist when you need to get across important information. Be aware of shouting or getting frustrated as this can upset those with dementia. Patience and clarity is key.
The last few months have been incredibly confusing for those living with dementia. Memory loss and confusion are very common with those who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. They may have trouble understanding media reports on covid-19, they might need reminding on the restrictions or some reassurance when going out and about.
If you are helping someone with dementia with their shopping it might be worth reminding them of the current restrictions in place. Signs on the floor, everyone wearing masks and one-way-systems can be very daunting for someone with dementia. They may need reminding several times leading up to the event. This can help prevent shock or panic setting in whilst in a shop doorway.
It is vital to ensure that dementia patients are getting the care that they need during this difficult time. Care plans, treatments and medical appointments should be stuck to as much as possible. The NHS is under pressure with rising Covid cases, but it is important that dementia sufferers still get access to the much-needed health services. Psychological and physical changes or symptoms should continue to be monitored and reported.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s report published in September stated that ‘exhausted’ family and friends spent an extra 92 million hours caring for loved ones with dementia since lockdown. This number is likely to have increased significantly since then with the UK going back into 2 national lockdowns since these surveys were completed.
Many people with dementia have mental capacity to make their own decisions and express their wishes. Those with severe dementia or forms of dementia that affect their ability to communicate may need someone to make important decisions on their behalf. This could be in relation to their finances, property, health or welfare.
Consent becomes important when those living with dementia need to have medical treatment for covid-19 or receive the vaccination.
Those with dementia will be in one of the vulnerable groups due to receive the vaccine early in the roll out programme. Many will have been offered their vaccination already.
With some patients lacking the capacity to give their consent, decisions may need to made on their behalf by medical professionals, carers or by their appointed attorney if they have a Health and Welfare LPA. Decisions will be made in their ‘best interest’.
If your loved one is yet to receive their first dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech or The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, then you may have some concerns about their appointment and how to explain what is happening.
If you have any concerns about your loved one receiving the vaccination, then it is important to speak to their GP or care provider ahead of time.
Many relatives have concerns about how their loved one will continue to live independently or make important decisions after a diagnosis of dementia.
In the early stages it is important to explore putting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place to ensure that someone they trust is appointed to take care of their legal affairs. There are two types of LPA and it is recommended that both are considered, however, it may be that only one is necessary depending on their circumstances.
A Property and Finances LPA, quite self-explanatory, addresses any decisions that need to be made about their property or finances. The appointed attorney can manage their bank accounts, assist with selling their property, pay bills and liaise with utility companies etc.
A Health & Welfare LPA covers matters relating to their wellbeing, this can include decisions about where they live, care that is provided, medical decisions and their personal care.
Both are useful for someone living with dementia who may gradually or suddenly loose the ability to manage these aspects of their life independently.
Many of the Lamb Brooks team are ‘Dementia Friends’ having undergone training on this sensitive topic in order to support and communicate with those living with dementia in an understanding way.
For more information about LPAs, wills, legal planning, or concerns about capacity, please contact Debbie Duggan on 01256 844888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Do’s and Don’t’s of Dealing With Dementia
How to Explain Dementia to Children
Supporting the Elderly Through Another Lockdown
The Link Between Football & Dementia: Bobby Chalton Diagnosed
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
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