Most likely, dementia does not increase risk for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, just like dementia does not increase risk for flu, according to the Alzhemier's Association.

Sherii Sherban of Miles for Memories in Calhoun County was a guest on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins on Monday.  She says dementia-related behaviors, increased age, and common health conditions that often accompany dementia may increase risk.

For example, people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias may forget to wash their hands or take other recommended precautions to prevent illness.  And diseases like COVID-19 and the flu may worsen cognitive impairment due to dementia.

Caregivers of individuals living with Alzheimer's and all other dementia should follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and consider the following tips:

  • For people living with dementia, increased confusion is often the first symptom of any illness. If a person living with dementia shows rapidly increased confusion, contact your health care provider for advice.
  • People living with dementia may need extra and/or written reminders and support to remember important hygienic practices from one day to the next.
    • Consider placing signs in the bathroom and elsewhere to remind people with dementia to wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds. 
    • Demonstrate thorough hand-washing. 
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be a quick alternative to hand-washing if the person with dementia cannot get to a sink or wash his/her hands easily.
  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor about filling prescriptions for a greater number of days to reduce trips to the pharmacy. 
  • Think ahead and make alternative plans for the person with dementia should adult day care, respite, etc. be modified or cancelled in response to COVID-19.
  • Think ahead and make alternative plans for care management if the primary caregiver should become sick. 

 If you’re concerned about your loved one staying home, or they are at risk for wandering, the personal GPS watch from Miles for Memories may help... It will help you to know where they are but also provide a direct communication link with your loved one, especially in cases of emergency.