The COVID-19 pandemic thrust the world into unprecedented circumstances, limiting our movements and forcing us to question every aspect of our health and social systems. This pandemic has been particularly harsh on people living with dementia and their families across Canada.
In many provinces, nursing home deaths were disproportionately represented, and Canada has the dubious honour of having one of the highest global death rates for this population. The Canadian Armed Forces’ report detailing horrifying conditions of care in Ontario and Quebec must not be ignored nor forgotten.
Family members are essential partners in care, and yet, those who reside in congregate settings have been denied access to family during the pandemic. Read how technology helped bridge the gap for some, like Daniel and Janet Gaetano (read about them in Caregiving through COVID), while waiting for the emergency measures to be lifted and family visits to resume. At the time of publication, it has been three months since family members have been allowed inside care facilities or people living inside were allowed out. Physically distant, outdoor visits while wearing masks are a poor substitute. No hugs or hand-holding are allowed.
For those who live in the community, home care, recreation programs and most forms of respite have been cancelled. Social isolation, which was already a concern, has increased exponentially. Some people with dementia struggle to understand and remember pandemic protocols and family caregivers have been left to cope with little support. Read how the Alzheimer Society of Calgary adapted quickly to provide remote communication including support groups and Club 36 Adult Day program activities (read more in TheAlzheimer Society of Calgary’s adaptation to COVID-19).
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on critical gaps in care, and this attention can be a driver to transform how care is provided and make our country more dementia-inclusive. We must do better as a nation to protect our most vulnerable and those who care for them. [ ]