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Research undertaken by The Alzheimer Society of Ireland indicates that lack of services due to COVID-19 is leading to a deterioration in the health of people with dementia

Wednesday 01 April 2020

Research carried out by The Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) to identify the current challenges brought about by the COVID-19 health crisis, as experienced by people with dementia and family carers, has found a rise in the cases of isolation, loneliness, boredom, anxiety and fear. The ASI’s Dementia Advisers have reported an increase in responsive behaviour from people with dementia including confusion, paranoia, delusions, agitation, and other behavioural changes, with one Dementia Adviser comparing the deterioration of one person with dementia to “falling off a cliff edge”.

The research, which included the views of 160 people with dementia, family carers, Dementia Advisers, and Dementia: Understand Together Community Champions, found that 73.3% of people with dementia feel they need some support at the moment with most requiring both practical (e.g. shopping) and emotional supports (e.g. regular telephone check-ins). Of note, only 31.3% were comfortable using the internet. 

77.6% of family carers reported needing supports including practical supports (e.g. shopping, information) and emotional supports (e.g. peer support). Many cited heightened anxiety and stress, with feelings of helplessness, worry for their loved ones with dementia, and concerns about the impact of social isolation. In particular, carers expressed that they are worried about getting sick themselves and not being able to care for loved ones.

In addition, almost 95% of Dementia: Understand Together Community Champions feel that with local services such as daycare, Alzheimer Cafes and community activities suspended, people affected by dementia require alternative practical or emotional support, or both (e.g. advice on local supports, dog walking and regular check-ins). Community Champions were also asked about alternative sources of support that were already in place in their communities, with respondents identifying volunteer networks offering practical assistance and meals-on-wheels services that are currently in action.

The ASI continues to support people with dementia and their families, insofar as its Home Care, Dementia Advisers, Alzheimer National Helpline and Online Family Carer Training are all still running. In addition, The ASI is implementing new ways of providing supports remotely, such as regular telephone calls and activity packages for people to use in their own homes. The full report can be found here: https://alzheimer.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/FINAL-Research-survey-results-on-need-1st-April-2020.pdf

Pictured: Pat McLoughlin, CEO of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland

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