Dementia Australia has called on the community, including health and aged care staff, to work together to maintain engagement with people impacted by dementia during this unprecedented time of enforced isolation.
Maree McCabe, CEO Dementia Australia said people living with dementia are some of the most vulnerable people in our community right now.
“We are all physically isolating, but it does not mean we have to feel socially isolated,” Ms McCabe said.
“Ramping up the focus on engagement and communication at this time of restricted physical contact is vital for all of us, but especially for people living with dementia.
“If stimulus is reduced for people living with dementia the loss of cognitive function can escalate.
“Over time these are losses that most people will not be able to regain.
“Being aware that your cognitive abilities may ‘slip away’, as one client described it, is a profound concern.
“With innovative strategies and working together it doesn’t have to be that way.
“For people living in residential aged care we encourage staff to involve families wherever they can to actively plan for different forms of engagement and methods of communication.”
Some of the fantastic examples we have heard about through aged care providers and our clients are:
- Maintaining regular visits from a family member at key times of importance for a person with dementia so that routines are maintained as much as possible or to assist with the care of their loved one;
- Staff scheduling window visits with phone calls, walks in gardens and courtyards within the homes so loved ones have been able to visit safely with no contact with other residents;
- Sharing of photos of residents enjoying activities with families;
- Arranging video calls, or if that isn’t practical, sharing video messages between residents and families;
- Printing out emails or photos to give to residents to enjoy;
- Providers inviting schools and community groups to send jokes, stories and messages to share;
- Where residents have needed to be confined to rooms, providing writing materials for residents to write