Many residents may have had their normal routines disrupted, are experiencing a lack of cognitive stimulation and are feeling lonely and anxious. Routines they once knew may have change. Morris 2020 states that “Society hasn’t figured out how to protect the elderly from coronavirus without imposing another very real health threat: isolation”. Activities like communal eating stopped due to social distancing. Other residents may feel perplexed as their relatives cannot visit them or they do not see them often anymore. Relatives on the other hand may fear that in a short space of time their loved ones may completely forget them. Whereas these days most elderly may use technology to communicate with their loved ones, it is challenging for elderly with dementia to do so causing further confusion and frustration to both them and their relatives.
Human beings need touch to feel love and affection and when words do not suffice it is touch which is reverted to, especially in care. Touch is well known for its therapeutic benefits. However with the present situation of COVID 19 and its transmission, this is being dissuaded due to cross-contamination. This lack of touch, which normally has a calming effect and lessons the effects of anxiety and agitation, may cause further stress and apprehension in persons with dementia who may find it essential as part of their daily communication.
There are other issues which come to mind when caring for clients with dementia during this time. Personal protective equipment whilst a necessity, results in healthcare workers speaking from behind masks, making it harder for persons already having cognitive issues, to determine words and understand what is being said to them. Facial expressions including smiles and kindness are hidden behind masks and carers’ faces loose familiarity. Full body suits make healthcare workers look strange and alien and may instill fear and confusion. It is all daunting, it is sudden and it is a change, all factors which are contraindicated in the care of older persons, even more so when they suffer from dementia.
Ms. Charmaine Montesin