Over the years, we’ve come to rely on support services for helping people living with dementia.
The Me2U was founded with the mission of helping people retain their independence for as long as possible by giving their carers an opportunity to take a well-earned break and refresh.
Nothing has made us understand the importance of support services in the community as much as COVID-19.
March 2020, we entered lockdown, and overnight, people with dementia were suddenly left without any support. Some home care services continued, but with a lot of concern over coronavirus transmission, many care packages were suspended.
But it isn’t just about the day-to-day care.
People have suffered in other ways.
Me2U have contributed to the research of Clarissa Giebel and the team at ARC NWC to uncover the impact of COVID-19 on dementia care. The findings show that the loss of respite services and community groups had severe repercussions for people who rely on services such as Me2U Centre.
Fortunately, the Government had a rethink, and since July 2020, we’ve been able to stay open and serve our clients, but if you were in any doubt just what a loss those four months were, then this makes for surprising reading.
People missed their routines
Like most people, it’s clear that people with dementia miss having routines to keep to. Routines are essential for helping us navigate our daily lives, and it can be distressing for someone with a dementia-related condition if they’re suddenly not allowed to go to the shops, see their loved ones or attend clubs they enjoy to keep them active.
What’s more, they don’t always understand the reason behind covid safely measures, for example, mask-wearing or the 2m distance rule, or having to see family through a glass window. This can make them sad, confused and frustrated.
Loss of stimulus
Clubs, activities and social outings provide an essential source of stimulus that keep brains active and engaged.
Removing these services, albeit temporarily, led to boredom. Even activities that can be done at home, like conversation or reminiscence, can be lacking when there isn’t much that’s happened for you to talk about.
Symptoms of dementia increased during the first lockdown
A curtailment of fun, engaging activities and the stimulus they provided led to a marked deterioration of symptoms in some people living with dementia. Anything you really connect with lights up the neural pathways in your brain, keeping everything fresh and alive. As soon as you’re not keeping these cerebral zones switched on, people begin to forget things, other people, songs and games they previously enjoyed on a regular basis.
For some, the damage is too much – A few months without vital services sadly meant their condition advanced beyond the point of no return.
Video calls weren’t enough
While lots of people moved their leisure and entertainment online, including some dementia services, it became clear that this was no real substitute for face-to-face interaction. Zoom was a way of keeping contact between loved ones, but nothing can make up for that personal touch of seeing people in the flesh.
People living alone adapted well
Those with early dementia symptoms and who lived alone were able to keep themselves busy with activities at home such as jigsaw puzzles and social media contact. Clearly, they knew what they needed to do to stay as well as possible. This is proof that services such as ours are working to help people stay independent for longer, which is a huge part of our mission.
We’re so glad to be able to keep our doors open safely and welcome everyone back. Find out what a typical day at Me2U Centre is like here.