Living with dementia mate wareware at any time has it challenges. The requirements and changes that have resulted from the response to COVID-19 can add additional stress and pressure. This page provides information for family, whānau, carers and/or supporters of people with dementia mate wareware who are living at home on how to stay well when there is COVID-19 in the community.
This information should be read alongside other information provided for carers that can be found on the Unite against COVID-19 website.
Families and whānau living with a person with dementia mate wareware
Prepare an emergency support plan
- If you don’t already have one, prepare an emergency support plan with support from friends or whānau if required.
- Your emergency support plan should include essential information to help you and the person you care for if your routine is disrupted. Dementia NZ has an Emergency Support Plan for Carers and People Living with Dementia
- Contact your general practice or Healthline 0800 358 5453 if you feel unwell.
Explaining COVID-19 to a person with dementia mate wareware
- Keep explanations simple, perhaps refer to COVID-19 as ‘the new virus’ or see the Easy Read sheets.
- Write down a short explanation about ‘the new virus’ and leave it where the person can read it.
- Limit the person’s exposure to repetitive news about COVID-19.
Your day-to-day needs
- Masks help us protect ourselves and others around us from getting infected with COVID-19 and other airborne viruses.
- Visitors to healthcare settings must wear a mask and there are other situations where masks are highly recommended. Read more about masks and when to wear them.
- If you, or the person you care for, cannot comfortably or safely wear a mask, it is not necessary to wear one. Find information on getting a mask exemption.
Looking after yourself and keeping connected
- It is important that you take care of yourself. By doing so you will be able to continue to provide support to someone else.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well, getting adequate rest and sleep, and try to remain as physically active as you can.
- Further suggestions for looking after yourself, for keeping connected and for activities to try, are found on the Alzheimers New Zealand website.
- Your local dementia/Alzheimers organisations, along with your general practice, are still available by phone and/or email.
Supporting a person with dementia mate wareware
Identifying changes in a person with dementia mate wareware
- Try and maintain the usual routines and activities as much as possible. For people with dementia mate wareware, changes to routines and activities could lead to further decline in memory, understanding and cognition.
- This deterioration can then result in poor understanding of hygiene needs, lack of cooperation with care and support and conflict with care partners. Clear and simple explanations will help reduce stress.
- To reduce the impact of social isolation on the person with dementia mate wareware, consider ways that they can remain connected to family and friends.
What to do if the person you support is unusually restless and unsettled
- Do your best to stay calm. Listen to the person, without arguing with them.
- Comfort and reassure the person using touch and words. Pets or animals may also be reassuring. If there are no animals at home, you can find calming nature videos online.
- Consider what might be causing the person to feel that way. Are they hungry, thirsty, or tired? Do they want to go to the toilet?
- Double check that they have taken their prescribed medications.
- Engage them in an enjoyable or calming activity. You know them best, so use strategies that you know makes them happy.
- Reach out to the people who make your family and whānau feel safe and loved, or who support you.
When to seek medical help
- Seek medical help immediately if there is a sudden change in the person’s level of alertness, upset in their day-night sleeping pattern, or troubling hallucinations. Any sudden symptoms or change in behaviour could indicate delirium.
- Contact your general practice or Healthline 0800 358 5453 if you are concerned about these and any other changes to the person’s physical and/or cognitive health.
- If the person with dementia mate wareware is known, their local health care provider or Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) agency should be in regular contact with them. This may be a time when support services are reprioritised, to monitor the health and wellbeing of the person.
- The person you are supporting may also be receiving home and community support services such as medications, meal prompts and/or daily personal cares.
- If you are concerned about the person’s wellbeing, or feel that their needs have changed, please contact the person’s general practice, local NASC or local Dementia or Alzheimers organisations to discuss options. You can find a list of local NASC on the NASCA website.
Minimising distress and anxiety
- Maintain or develop regular routines for daily, or if required, more frequent checks and support.
- Provide a written explanation of what will be happening when support workers come into the house, including instructions for who to allow in and how the person checks their identity. If you find out they will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), ask them to phone immediately before the visit to prepare the person. You might do this by showing the person a picture of what support workers are likely to look like. You could do this via email.
- Ensure the person knows how to contact family, friends or their general practice for help if they become unwell or distressed.
- If a person with dementia mate wareware tests positive with COVID-19 there are several ways that they can be identified as more vulnerable. They may be eligible for COVID-19 medicines that can reduce their risk of severe illness.
- They may already be known to their health care provider as being at higher risk. Care community hubs and primary care prioritise vulnerable people for initial assessment and any subsequent follow-ups.
- It’s important the health questions in the self-assessment form that is sent when they get COVID-19 are filled out. If you can't use the online form or would prefer not to, call 800 555 278 for assistance to complete the form.
- COVID-19 antiviral medicines must be started to be taken within the first five days of getting COVID-19 symptoms. When taken early in COVID-19 illness, these medicines have been proven to reduce hospitalisation and death.
- Where possible every effort should be made to keep the person with dementia mate wareware at home in their familiar environment, with appropriate support for the person and their carer, where their health allows this.
- The NASC will liaise with community services (for example, the local Dementia or Alzheimers organisation, community nursing and/or home support agencies) to support the person and their family and whānau at home.
- COVID-19 symptoms may result in increased confusion and decreased functioning.
- There also may be increased risk of falls, continence issues, loss of appetite and greater intensity of care needed. Caring at home may not be possible depending on the severity of the illness.
- See the Ministry of Health's Guidance for admissions into aged residential care facilities for information about admissions to the aged residential sector.
For the latest advice, information and resources, go to the Unite against COVID-19 website.
If you have concerns about your health, speak to a doctor.
Alzheimers New Zealand
- COVID-19 – information on vaccines, and for care partners and family and whānau
- Member organisations’ contact details
- Other important services/support