Coronavirus is posing a significant risk for people affected by dementia and many are cut off from the outside world, warns Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity.
The charity is hearing regularly from families, individuals and organisations across Northern Ireland wanting to know how they can help make a difference during these unprecedented times.
No one should have to face any challenges over the coming weeks and months alone. Alzheimer’s Society continues to be there for anyone affected by dementia and Bernadine McCrory, Director for Northern Ireland, shares five ways supporters can help too, from the comfort of their own home.
- Spread the word about Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line
Currently, 80% of calls to Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line are concerning issues faced by people affected by dementia caused by the coronavirus.
People who ring the Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 will be greeted by an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Adviser, who will be able to provide information and practical measures on how to stay safe, active and social during this difficult time. Phone lines are open seven days a week.
Alzheimer’s Society’s online community, Talking Point, can connect people affected by dementia with others to share tips and ways to cope during this crisis. t can be accessed online for free, night or day at alzheimers.org.uk/talkingpoint
Help spread the word about these lifelines by following Alzheimer’s Society on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and sharing our messages to help people with dementia stay connected during these challenging times.
- Donate to Alzheimer’s Society’s Emergency Appeal
Alzheimer’s Society is hearing daily from families struggling to explain what’s going on, unable to get food deliveries and carers unable to visit vulnerable people in person.
Never have Alzheimer’s Society services been in such urgent need.
The Emergency Appeal will raise funds to help keep the Dementia Connect support line going and extend telephone and virtual support.
People affected by dementia say the support line is a lifeline, with thousands of people affected by dementia now having to cope with a temporary closure of face-to-face services and self-isolation.
You can help support Alzheimer’s Society’s Emergency Appeal by donating making a one-off donation today at alzheimers.org.uk/coronavirus-appeal
- Get baking
Cupcake Day, which usually takes place in July, will look a little different this year and has no set date – but whether you take part with your household or online, involvement is important now more than ever.
Bakers across the nation are being asked to rise as one to support people living with dementia. It’s a great opportunity to join forces with thousands of others in kitchens up and down the UK. Use what’s in your cupboards, get creative and get the kids involved too – or bring your workmates together virtually.
Sign up at cupcakeday.org.uk
- Become a Dementia Friend
Join the growing dementia movement which has seen more than three million people become Dementia Friends.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative allows people to learn a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turn that understanding into action.
You can sign up to watch a short video online about dementia, after which you’ll become a Dementia Friend. To take part, visit dementiafriends.org.uk
Why not use social media to share that you are a Dementia Friend and encourage friends and family to do the same?
- Be a GameChanger
Self-isolating is tough for everyone, so download the GameChanger app on your smartphone to help dementia research.
It requires people who don’t have dementia to simply play games on your smartphone for five minutes a day, every day, for one month.
GameChanger is a research project led by University of Oxford and supported by Alzheimer’s Society. The games are designed to test specific aspects of memory and thinking that are believed to be affected in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
For up to date information, our services and practical measures we can all take to protect people with dementia during the coronavirus crisis, please visit alzheimers.org.uk
Five ways people living with dementia can stay active, social and safe during the coronavirus pandemic
Here are five ways a person living with dementia can stay active, social and safe right now.
- Know where to go for help
If you already receive some support at home, make a list of key professionals and their contact details and keep it somewhere obvious. This will stop you having to find contact details at a time when you may well feel stressed or unwell.
If you don’t receive support at home, it’s a good idea to make a note of your local authority’s social services department, check which local shops or take-aways offer home delivery and make a note of the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect support line.
The Dementia Connect support line is open seven days a week (0333 150 3456) and provides information and practical measures for people affected by dementia around the coronavirus, as well as directing people towards other reliable sources.
- Talking Point
You’re not alone – there are plenty of online support networks available, where you can seek ideas, support and advice, including Alzheimer’s Society’s Talking Point.
The online community can connect you with others affected by dementia to share tips and ways to cope during this crisis.
It can be accessed online for free, night or day at alzheimers.org.uk/talkingpoint
- Keep the mind active and engaged
Keeping mentally active is as important as keeping physically active, especially as many people with dementia will experience a loss of routine and fewer opportunities to be part of their local community.
If you live with someone with dementia, look for activities to do together. Puzzles and games can be an enjoyable way of keeping the mind active - as well as board games, there are also plenty of activity apps available that you can download. Alzheimer’s Society’s online shop, alzheimers.org.uk/shop has a variety of products like this specifically for people with dementia.
Whatever activity you chose to do, from knitting to puzzles, a routine to do these at set times can help the time pass.
- Seated exercises
Seated exercises from the comfort of your own home are ideal for people who are staying in.
They are aimed at building or maintaining muscle strength and balance, without being too strenuous. They can be part of a developing programme, with the number of repetitions of each exercise increased over time. Some examples of seated exercises include:
turning the upper body from side to side
raising the heels and toes
raising the arms towards the ceiling
raising the opposite arm and leg
bending the legs
clapping under the legs
bicycling the legs
making circles with the arms
practising moving from sitting to standing.
You could also try some home versions of your favourite sports, like ten pin bowling with plastic bottles, throwing socks into a laundry bin or create your own coconut shy from the fair ground.
Or why not set a dance alarm every few hours? Whether seated or standing, dancing is a great way to move your body in any way you can without it feeling like physical activity.
- Routine is key
People with dementia are worried about losing their routine. Developing a daily routine will make staying at home easier, as it can help people with dementia know what to expect on a given day and feel less anxious.
With so many things changing on a frequent basis, put a regular and manageable schedule in place - if you are living with dementia and find you feel better at certain times of the day, try to arrange activities for then.
Also take things one step at a time – try to focus on one thing at a time and break each task down into smaller steps if you need to.