Needham Goes Purple is Presented by:
Hebrew SeniorLife’s Center for Memory Health Offers Telemedicine and Virtual Support
Although many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic remain uncertain, one thing is clear: the risk of serious complications, even death, from COVID-19 is highest for older adults. For those with cognitive and memory impairment, the risks are even higher as our best defenses – handwashing, social distancing, and isolation – create additional challenges for these individuals.
- Provide Information: Older adults, particularly those with cognitive and memory impairments, often have low awareness and limited access to accurate information and facts about the COVID-19 pandemic. This can result in either excessive worries or a lack of appropriate concern. As a family member or caregiver, it is therefore important to provide clear, concise, consistent information and to repeat it often. Our resource specialists can help families find the right tools to maximize understanding.
- Assist with Self-Protection: Cognitive impairment makes self-protection challenging. Therefore, the risk of infection is higher in a person with dementia who may not fully understand the risk of disease or may forget to be as careful as necessary. In addition, if infected, a person with cognitive limitations can unknowingly spread the disease. Our dementia care management experts can help caregivers put in place a strict structure with reminders and oversight to minimize the risk to the person with dementia and their household.
- Monitor symptoms: Poor memory and limited self-awareness also pose risks because the person may not recognize the presence of symptoms that could be significant. Our dedicated nurse can help caregivers learn to make daily assessments of various health indicators, and our resource specialists can help families acquire the necessary tools and protections.
- Assess cognitive impact: Confinement, loneliness, stress, fear, and anxiety can all lead to greater or shifting mental and cognitive problems, including confusion and delirium. This risk is particularly acute in the elderly and frail, and individuals with dementia. Timely recognition and interventions are needed to minimize the risk and possibly undesirable consequences. Our behavioral and cognitive neurology consultation via telemedicine can help assess cognitive function, address behavioral changes, diagnose and treat co-morbidities, and recommend personalized, effective interventions.
- Reduce stress: During these challenging times, caring for someone with cognitive impairment causes a substantial increase in stress for the caregiver and family members. Therefore, it is important for caregivers to consider their own wellbeing and get appropriate support. The risks to a person with dementia are substantially increased if the caregiver is stressed or depressed. Our family care programs, including individual counseling and caregiver support groups via telephone and video conference, are here to support families in their moment of greatest need.
Do not hesitate to contact us for resource guidance, patient and caregiver support, cognitive health and dementia care management, or behavioral neurology consultation at 617-363-8600 or CMH@hsl.harvard.edu. We will be happy to answer your questions about our services. Our telehealth services are covered by Medicare and most insurance.