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How can you help people living with Dementia and memory problems to understand, remember and follow the COVID 19 advice?

Tips to help your resident living with dementia and memory problems

  • Some people with dementia have difficulty understanding complex instructions about selfisolation or handwashing – keeping information simple, accessible and repeatable is key. Give the person time to process what you have said and respond
  • Use posters and reminders in the home. Pictures and words are best. Put them on the doors, next to the sink and in places that are regularly passed. Point out the poster and make a clear statement ‘We need to wash our hands’.
  • Keep communication as clear as possible and give positive instructions ‘Shall we go here?’ instead of ‘Don’t go there’.

  • Link washing hands with a song, music or story. Pay close attention to details such as how the water feels, the smell of the soap and memories linked to times when you wash hands (work, school, hospitals).

  • The person with dementia is likely to mirror your mood and behaviour. They will pick up on anxiety and panic.

    • Try to stay calm, smile, matter of fact and upbeat/positive when talking to them. Even If you are wearing a mask the person can see the smile in your eyes.

    • Limit access to the news, radio and conversations about covid-19 and the risks. This heightens anxiety and is hard to explain.

    • Keep the mood light and encourage.


  • If a person cannot be encouraged to remain in their room; -
    • Close other’s bedroom doors, unless this poses a risk, as they are less likely to open a closed door.
    • Can a portion of the unit be given over to them so they have the space to move around?
    • If you are trying to get the person to stop doing something (i.e. walking), you may have to walk with them and match their speed, then gradually change the rhythm or pattern rather than opposing them
    • Do they have access to individualised music in their room (such as Playlist for Life)?
    • Do they have access to a TV in their room and programmes on that do not need too much understanding of language? Be careful of having the news on or programmes with distressing content that they may interpret as real.
    • Do they have access to a DVD player and DVDs of familiar and favourite films, sports they like that they can watch in their room?


  • If relatives and friends visits are not able to visit or visiting is limited in the care home – try and encourage frequent phone calls, the use of technology (e.g. facetime or similar platforms) to help improve communication between families. 
  • People with dementia are much more prone to develop delirium (a confusional state), if they develop an infection. If you notice changes in levels of confusion or unusual behaviour. Seek medical advice if you think they are showing symptoms – NHS 111 or phone the GP. I
  • If you have any queries or require support with your resident/s, please contact the Care Home Mental Health Nurse via the Covid19 care home Advice line

Wokingham: 07824 456216

Reading: 07900 364206

West Berkshire: 07867 978349