Caring for Those Living with Dementia, Stroke and Neurodegenerative Diseases

By now you have heard a lot about the COVID-19 virus and its impact in Canada and around the world, including some mandatory self-isolation in parts of Europe and elsewhere. While trying to maintain a safe distance from others during this time is a good idea, we cannot forget about those who are the most vulnerable, including people living with dementia, stroke or neurodegenerative diseases.

ONDRI, along our partners – Ontario Brain Institute, Alzheimer Society of Ontario, Heart & Stroke, Parkinson Canada, ALS Society of Canada, MINT Memory Clinics, and Regional Geriatric Programs of Ontario – have devised unified messaging, to be disseminated widely. We feel this is important, especially due to the influx of information out there, where it was hard to know what is reliable. Why is this relevant?

First, COVID-19 puts seniors at risk, particularly those over 65. Second, COVID-19 has a greater impact on those with other chronic conditions like stroke and dementia. Third, the strategies used to “flatten the curve” and limit spread (handwashing, social distancing, limiting in person visiting) are especially difficult for someone with memory or mobility issues – i.e. people who need help with things like buying groceries, preparing meals and bathing. And so, we feel it is important to prompt care partners on how to distance without isolating their love ones – as isolating seniors can have detrimental long-term effects on their overall wellbeing.

Today, we are reminding the community that there are some easy things we can all do to help ensure the health and well-being of those living with dementia, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. We have produced this joint statement on the importance of social connectivity and support, called “Social Distancing YES, Social Isolation NO” Here.

This helpful step-by-step statement serves as a guide and also included a user-friendly infographic (above) that outlines four important points to manage care during the pandemic: use technology; make sure you have enough, but don’t stockpile medications; know your resources and seek support; and be a good neighbour.