WASHINGTON — The COVID-19 pandemic threatens nearly everyone worldwide and presents unique challenges for people living with disabilities and their caregivers.
So organizations like the Alzheimer's Association are offering additional guidance to families.
Ana Nelson, Vice President of Programs and Services for the Alzheimer's Association National Capital Area Chapter says, "It is important to recognize, the elderly, those with chronic conditions of the heart, lungs, or diabetes are at the highest risk of the complications from COVID-19 and the flu."
Nelson notes that while having dementia does not increase the risk of having COVID-19, she says caregivers have to be increasingly alert of coughing, fever, or trouble breathing, "because in many cases, our loved ones may not be able to express themselves verbally that there is something is not right."
People with dementia may not remember to wash their hands or take other precautions to prevent getting a virus. In many cases, they are often diagnosed and untreated for viruses like influenza and other conditions.
Nelson adds, "So if we become aware if there are flu-like symptoms, it's important to take their temperature and to write down their concerns and then follow up with a doctor to see if you need to take them in for an assessment.
Put signs in the house with a reminder for through hand-washing for 20 seconds after using the bathroom, before eating. Also, pay extra attention to the subtle signs of stress, confusion, as well as flu-like symptoms.
"A lot of folks might be contagious and not even know it, so that primary caregiver's gonna need to monitor everyone that comes to the house and practice safe distance," says Nelson.
For more advice from the Alzheimer's Association call their free 24/7 Helpline 1-800-272-3900, and visit alz.org for more resources.