• The recent coronavirus lockdown has had a huge impact on our daily life, with some more than others suffering as a result. Recent research has revealed the huge negative impact of COVID-19 on those living with dementia and those who care for them.

    The tragic effect of coronavirus

    Dementia was the most common pre-existing condition in nearly 20,000 care home residents who died from coronavirus between 2 March to 12 June 2020 according to the Office for National Statistics. Unexplained ‘excess’ deaths of people with dementia were 83% higher in England and 54% higher in Wales, in April of lockdown.

    Alzheimer’s Society survey

    The worldwide pandemic has also had a huge ongoing detrimental impact on those with living with dementia and their carers. This is illustrated by the findings of a recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Society, which questioned 1,831 people living with dementia and their carers. The findings make for uncomfortable reading.

    The survey shows that more than 50% of those with dementia, and 80% of those who live alone with the condition, have been completely isolated since lockdown began in March. From the people surveyed, 30% of those living with the condition feel like ‘giving up’ as they have mentally and physically deteriorated during lockdown. A similar amount said they do not feel confident going outside as lockdown restrictions have eased.

    The survey found that 50% of those living with dementia have had fewer in-depth conversations than before lockdown – shockingly, 30% of those with dementia have gone at least four days without having a conversation lasting more than five minutes. This rises to nearly 50% of those who are living alone. Twelve per cent have reported they have gone a whole week without spending more than five minutes talking to someone.

    Kate Lee, Chief Executive at the Alzheimer’s Society, has been reported as saying: “As lockdown begins to lift and the true extent of its knock-on effect to the health and wellbeing of people with dementia becomes evident, we’ve heard from people up and down the UK who are scared, lonely and struggling to cope… thousands of people with dementia, worst hit by the virus, have tragically died. Additionally, the dreadful deterioration of their mental health risks scarring thousands more in the long term.”

    The Alzheimer’s Society has reported that the charity’s support services have been accessed more than half a million times during lockdown, with 15,000 calls to the society’s Dementia Connect Helpline.

    How you can help

    Brachers Partner Mary Rimmer heads up the firm’s Elderly and Vulnerable team and is a passionate advocate of raising awareness for those living with dementia. Mary is a Dementia Friends Champion, working as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Society. Here are her top five tips on how to support a family member, friend, neighbour, or someone you know who is living with dementia and struggling at this difficult time.

    Top five tips to support someone living with dementia

    1. If the person with dementia still has enough understanding to do so, and if they have not yet made a Lasting Power of Attorney, it would be sensible to speak to a lawyer about putting one in place sooner rather than later. A property and financial power of attorney will enable them to get help on a practical level to look after their personal finances.
    2. To keep the person with dementia feeling in touch with others, where appropriate, and if they are able to use the phone and computer, try and help them to get set up on email, touch dial telephone calls, video calling and social media. Try and set up contact with them at a regular time of day to help give them structure and something to look forward to.
    3. Contact adult social care in the borough or county where the person with dementia lives. For any practical support, including shopping or collecting medicines, contact your local coronavirus community hub.
    4. If you know someone with dementia who is living alone, try and help them stay both physically and mentally active even if they are trying to stay at home and socially distance. Setting a routine to stick to can provide some comfort and stability. Perhaps you could help set them up with online Scrabble or another cognitive game?
    5. Make sure you make the most of the help available from the Alzheimer’s Society and other dementia charities. The Alzheimer’s Society has a Dementia Connect Helpline on 0333 150 3456 and Admiral Nurses have a Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678. You can connect with other people affected by dementia through their online community, Talking Point. Carers can also contact other carers through Carers UK Forum.

    Legal support

    If you require legal support on making a Lasting Power of Attorney, or any other issues around support for elderly and vulnerable people, please get in touch.

    This content is correct at time of publication

    Can we help?

    Take a look at our Powers of Attorney page for useful information, resources, guidance, details of our team and how we may be able to help you

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