A care provider has expressed fears that the pandemic has resulted in an increase in the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Derbyshire-based Locally We Do, which provides assisted living services to the elderly and disabled, says isolation due to Coronavirus has led to a decline in cognitive functions.
Damian Doras, the service’s managing director, said: “Elderly people who have been staying in alone and not having any contact with the outside world during the pandemic, have not been catching buses to go shopping, speaking to their neighbours or having family over to indulge them in conversation.
“Even the art of conversation uses those cognitive muscles and allows the elderly to recall what they have done that week or that day.
“Having been cooped up so long due to the Covid-19 lockdown, people are in desperate need of face-to-face contact and communication.”
Locally We Do, run by Damian and his wife Helena, provides bespoke services from home help, cleaning, gardening and handyman work to property maintenance, shopping, accompanied doctor and hospital appointments, befriending and much more.
Damian added: “Befriending is an essential part of our home help service that our clients and their families are finding more invaluable than ever, giving them peace of mind and reassurance that their Mum or Dad is okay and being looked after.
“Due to our Covid-19 procedures, we have been able to do just that for our clients throughout this mentally challenging time.”
In June, the Alzheimer’s Society conducted a study of 1,831 people with dementia and their carers.
Of the respondents, one third said they felt “apathetic” or like they “want to give up” due to lockdown, while a similar fraction said they do not feel confident venturing outside.
According to the charity’s findings, 45 per cent of participants said the lockdown had caused their mental health to deteriorate.
The charity’s survey of 128 care homes also reveals nearly 80 per cent have seen a deterioration in the health of their residents with dementia due to lack of social contact.
Damian said 75 per cent of the firm’s elderly clients have reported adverse effects from loneliness during the pandemic, including a decline in cognitive function and a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
He added: “Many clients have simply not left the house in over 16 weeks, and a few of those are struggling with a loss of confidence, and becoming more reclusive. When people have a loss of confidence about going out and taking part in ‘normal’ life. It is a vicious cycle.”
Damian and Helena say they have witnessed first-hand many elderly people throughout the county having trouble with remembering what food is in the cupboards, struggling with payments and handling money, and also struggling to place the correct words into a sentence.
“Sure we have heard from clients whose family have set them up on Zoom or other apps to engage in video calls, but this should not be used as a substitute for face-to-face human contact,” said Damian.
He added that his staff had visited clients and noticed health issues which may have been missed on a video call to family.
“When we go into someone’s home, we can see bruises or notice if our adopted ‘grandmas and grandads’ seem under the weather,” said Damian.
He urged relatives to “get that face-to-face contact going again, arrange a trip out even if it is once a month, ask what they enjoy doing, and try to arrange activities of interest”.