As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads around the world, it is clear that people living with NCDs (also known as chronic diseases) are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill.

These include people living with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, dementia, kidney disease and cancer. (For information on cancer visit Cansa.)

Older people, especially living with dementia, may become more anxious, frustrated, stressed, agitated, and withdrawn during the outbreak and it is easy to become overwhelmed with the scale and frequency of news updates. For those in quarantine these difficulties may be even more harsh.

People living with dementia with family may have limited access to accurate information and facts about Covid-19. They might have difficulties in remembering safeguard procedures, such as wearing masks, or understanding the public health information issued to them. Ignoring the warnings and lacking sufficient self-quarantine measures could expose them to a higher chance of infection.

Most local authorities have prevented visitors to residential care facilities. Loved ones and people living with dementia in care facilities have lost face-to-face contact. To ease the feeling of social isolation, it’s a good idea for group activities to still take place in care facilities, but in a new format. The use of technology, to provide virtual contact with family members and loved ones, helps to ease the loneliness and anxiety on both sides of the screen.

The importance of carers in this time cannot be over-stressed. Carers need to maintain strict hygiene but also monitor themselves closely for symptoms of Covid-19 and be vigilant of their own health.

It is important that care staff keep the environment calm and reassuring. The attitude and approach of any and every carer needs to reflect a calm and considerate disposition. If the carers themselves are uptight and anxious, this will be picked up from their body language and tone of voice. Thus, monitoring the mental health burden of carers at this difficult time is also important.

DementiaSA is able to assist with social worker intervention and counselling to both carers and families remotely – please call us on 0860 636 679 email us at info@dementiasa.org to set up what kind of assistance you need.