Relatives of people with dementia have called additional support for those living with the condition, with the knock-on effects of the pandemic taking a toll on their wellbeing and worsening cognitive decline.
According to a new survey from health tech brand Tover, two thirds of Brits (60%) who have a loved one with dementia say the UK government is currently ‘not providing sufficient support’, while one in three (38%) it needs to be doing ‘a lot more’ to support this vulnerable community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Visiting restrictions in care homes as well as social distancing in the wider community have deprived people with dementia of stimulation over the course of the pandemic, leading to noticeable deterioration in their wellbeing.
When polled on the wellbeing of their relative with dementia, three in four respondents said they have noticed signs of deterioration since the pandemic began.
The study was conducted on 502 people who have a loved one with dementia.
More than a third (35%) stated that their relative has experienced increased memory loss since March 2020, almost 40% said their relative has suffered increased feelings of anxiety and more than half (51%) said their relative had suffered increased levels of confusion.
Tover said that while the need for government support is clear, there are activities that can be implemented by carers and relatives of people with dementia that are more readily available.
Examples include verbal interaction – having regular conversations about people in their life or their environment – and physical interaction in situations that are COVID-safe, such as hand holding and hugs.
The survey found that almost half (49%) of relatives of a person with dementia believe the most helpful activity to improve their relative’s interest in their environment is verbal interaction with friends or family.
Dr Hester Anderiesen Le Riche, CEO and founder of Tover said: “Whilst the pandemic continues to be a very difficult time for all, mitigating the effects of the pandemic on people with dementia should be a public health priority. This group – both those who are in care homes, and those who are not – are facing a myriad of unique challenges, including social isolation and limited physical activity every single day.
“It is upsetting to hear from relatives of those with dementia that there has been a significant increase in anxiety, confusion, and isolation over the course of the pandemic.
“It is therefore vital that we look to the solutions more readily available that can be implemented alongside the restrictions of the pandemic – such as verbal and physical interaction as frequently as possible, as well as games and services that provide cognitive stimulation, such as the Tovertafel. These activities can help these individuals stay engaged and cut through apathy.”
He added: “There is a way to go until we as a nation are able to prioritise this kind of support and adopt a more holistic approach so these individuals can maintain a respectable quality of life. Right now, it is crucial that their mental wellbeing is not overlooked whilst we battle to protect their physical health from the virus.”