Put people with dementia at the heart of lockdown solution, says Alzheimer’s Society

Response to new figures from Alzheimer’s Society which show an extra 10,000 dementia deaths in England and Wales in April following severe impact of social isolation on people with the condition.

 As care homes enter their third month of closing doors to visitors, an Alzheimer’s Society investigation has found that lack of social contact is having a devastating impact on people with dementia:
  • 79% of care homes report that the lack of social contact is causing a deterioration in the health and wellbeing of their residents with dementia (1).
  • Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line is receiving hundreds of calls from relatives of loved ones in care homes, where at least 70% of residents have dementia, telling heart-breaking stories of people with dementia feeling confused and abandoned by the lack of visits, stopping eating, losing the ability to speak and ‘disappearing’.
  • One man told the charity “I’m really fearful my wife won’t recognise me at the end of this”, as fears about care homes become the top concern of the charity’s support line
  • Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the Government to place social contact at the heart of its plans to support people with dementia as the country emerges from lockdown.

The impact of COVID-19 on people living with dementia was included on BBC’s Newsnight on 4th June as Alzheimer’s Society called on Government to put them at the heart of a lockdown solution.

Grace Meadows, Campaign Director of Music for Dementia, says the figures highlight the alarming way in which the virus has affected people living with dementia and their families – and how vital it is to find avenues of connecting when basic human needs for interaction are not possible.

She said: “Dementia isolates us in painful ways – the disconnection can be lonely and frightening and this has been starkly amplified during the lockdown.

“This is why we are campaigning for people living with dementia to have wider access to the kind of resources that can alleviate these symptoms.

“Although it doesn’t replace a hug from a loved one, or a previous routine, music has played a significant role in supporting people living with dementia through lockdown. Already isolated, lockdown has deepened this for people living with dementia.

“Yet we have seen beautiful and powerful examples of how music is keeping connections alive, helping to provide necessary stimulation. One such example is a gentleman who has declined in recent weeks hearing a Glen Miller track and getting up to jive to it.

“In this bleak period, music has continued to bring much needed joy and be a vital lifeline for people living with dementia and their carers.”

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