Social distancing with Dementia

Miss Elli

Registered User
Apr 9, 2020
18
My Mum has vascular dementia and lives on her own. With the present crisis I am visiting just once a week with shopping and this week one of her neighbours told me some people in her village have been complaining as she doesn't social distance and keeps visiting her village shop. She tells people she hasn't got Covid 19 and she doesn't care if she gets it anyway as happy to die ..... can't get her to understand that she needs to keep her distance not just for her own health but that of others. I don't know what to do, but must admit I'm disappointed with her community as assuming the people who are complaining are younger and fitter so can get away from mum easily. Feeling quite helpless though and worried, not sure what her neighbours expect me to do!
 
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Louise7

Registered User
Mar 25, 2016
2,479
Welcome to the forum Miss Elli. Everyone is worried about the current situation but you seem to doing what you can to protect your Mum and the community. It's really difficult when those with dementia are unable to understand the need to keep indoors but there are others here who are having the same problem and understand how you are feeling. There's lots of support here so keep posting, and you might find some coping ideas within the specific Covid-19 forum: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/forums/coronavirus-covid-19.83/
 

Pete1

Registered User
Jul 16, 2019
887
Hi @Miss Elli, welcome to the forum. Sorry to here about the predicament that Mum is in. I don't think there is anything that you can do, just repeating it to your Mum is unlikely to make any difference. I really do think the onus is on the local community to manage the situation. If the neighbour who told you is aware he/she should be ensuring that others are made aware that your Mum is not able to follow the distancing rules and that they should ensure the distance is maintained e.g. just say hello and walk away. Could you perhaps speak to the neighbour explain the situation (if they don't already know) and ask for their help?
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,294
All you can do is what Pete has suggested - talk to the neighbours and ask for their understanding. Your mother will not comprehend the idea of social distancing, added to which people with dementia lose empathy very early on, so it won't be possible to persuade her to do anything for other people's sake. Her behaviour is symptom of the disease, she can't be 'reasoned' out of it, others will have to work around it.

My mother is in a CH and I am willing to bet none of the residents are able to follow social distancing instructions - it's just the way it is.
 

Miss Elli

Registered User
Apr 9, 2020
18
Thank you for the replies, so many people are obviously suffering and trying to cope with the same or similar problems. The neighbours know of Mum's diagnosis I think that's why I struggled so much after being told people are complaining, it really doesn't help me, it just adds to my worries. I'm wondering whether to print out a letter and post through doors in the neighbourhood but I'd feel really guilty doing that as I know Mum would be devastated if she found out. ... it's such a quandary knowing what to do for the best, but thank you and so glad I have found this forum as I'm sure moving forwards I will need to dip into this site often.
 

karaokePete

Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
5,652
N Ireland
Thank you for the replies, so many people are obviously suffering and trying to cope with the same or similar problems. The neighbours know of Mum's diagnosis I think that's why I struggled so much after being told people are complaining, it really doesn't help me, it just adds to my worries. I'm wondering whether to print out a letter and post through doors in the neighbourhood but I'd feel really guilty doing that as I know Mum would be devastated if she found out. ... it's such a quandary knowing what to do for the best, but thank you and so glad I have found this forum as I'm sure moving forwards I will need to dip into this site often.
Hello and welcome to the forum from me too.

In my experience it helps to do what we feel is best rather than what the person with dementia wants. My reasoning for this opinion is that a diagnosis of dementia would be uncommon if the persons abilities/behaviour weren't impaired. There is an initial embarrassment that, in my experience, soon disappears.

When my wife was first diagnosed she was, of course, devastated and she forbade me to tell anyone. I told all family, friends and neighbours and found that we got understanding and even assistance on the odd occasion. My wife knows that she has dementia but has little awareness of how that has changed her abilities and what her behaviours are like apart from thinking her memory is bad and that she struggles to make conversation. She now, herself, tells everyone that she has dementia.

I haven't found any negativity and no one has ever mentioned anything to my wife.

I hope that you find a solution that helps you both.
 

Miss Elli

Registered User
Apr 9, 2020
18
Hello and welcome to the forum from me too.

In my experience it helps to do what we feel is best rather than what the person with dementia wants. My reasoning for this opinion is that a diagnosis of dementia would be uncommon if the persons abilities/behaviour weren't impaired. There is an initial embarrassment that, in my experience, soon disappears.

When my wife was first diagnosed she was, of course, devastated and she forbade me to tell anyone. I told all family, friends and neighbours and found that we got understanding and even assistance on the odd occasion. My wife knows that she has dementia but has little awareness of how that has changed her abilities and what her behaviours are like apart from thinking her memory is bad and that she struggles to make conversation. She now, herself, tells everyone that she has dementia.

I haven't found any negativity and no one has ever mentioned anything to my wife.

I hope that you find a solution that helps you both.
Thank you so much
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
9,311
Yorkshire
Hi @Miss Elli
a warm welcome from me too
I'm not sure I would put a letter out to so many people ... maybe I am just too suspicious, I'm sure most would take it positively but it would take only 1 to decide to take advantage
maybe make sure the staff in the local shop are aware so they might be able to mediate on your mum's behalf and treat her with understanding as an example to those complaining
 

Lyd

Registered User
May 27, 2019
84
I am really lucky that we have a commuity arround my MIL the neighbours know and have my number. The shops know and have my number. We run the risk of someone taking advantance. We have taken strategies to limit that possibility with the bank and what we allow her to have. And found that everyone has actually been lovely and appart from the odd taxi driver taking £80 with a tip instead of £8 people have been brill. I have tradespeople coming to my home saying she gave me too much, neighbours texting me etc it stops endless calls to the police and useless social care referrals.
My dilemma has been social distancing in the shopping line and anxious members of the public being abusive which is bang out of order.
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,294
It sounds as if you know the neighbours who normally interact with your mother, and/or the ones who are complaining? So they know she has dementia, but (as is very common) they don't really understand what that means. They think she's just a bit forgetful, but as we know there is a lot more to it.

If you would like to put a note through their doors explaining more about it, that could be a good idea. It will help them to understand that she isn't being 'difficult' and there is no point trying to force her to 'understand'. The info in the first post below may give you some ideas on how to phrase it.

 

Laurel2020

New member
Mar 30, 2020
2
Thank you for the replies, so many people are obviously suffering and trying to cope with the same or similar problems. The neighbours know of Mum's diagnosis I think that's why I struggled so much after being told people are complaining, it really doesn't help me, it just adds to my worries. I'm wondering whether to print out a letter and post through doors in the neighbourhood but I'd feel really guilty doing that as I know Mum would be devastated if she found out. ... it's such a quandary knowing what to do for the best, but thank you and so glad I have found this forum as I'm sure moving forwards I will need to dip into this site often.

Hello, I am new here too but in a very similar situation. Mum has vascular dementia, and lives in supported housing where there is a manager during office hours, but she is currently working from home. Mum just doesn't have the capacity to change her routine of popping out when she feels like it so that she can shop and chat. We live a couple of miles away and have been doing her shopping etc, but this does not make any difference at all. The neighbours are complaining and I don't feel supported by the manager at all. The only suggestion I got was to being her to self isolate with me, which isn't a very practical suggestion as I am still working and my husband is vulnerable too. They have a case of the virus at the flats and that person is now in hospital. I am very torn about what to do, feeling guilty and very anxious myself at the moment. Any hints or tips would be most welcome from anyone! Wishing you all the best at this difficult time.
 

nae sporran

Volunteer Host
Oct 29, 2014
7,127
Bristol
Hello, I am new here too but in a very similar situation. Mum has vascular dementia, and lives in supported housing where there is a manager during office hours, but she is currently working from home. Mum just doesn't have the capacity to change her routine of popping out when she feels like it so that she can shop and chat. We live a couple of miles away and have been doing her shopping etc, but this does not make any difference at all. The neighbours are complaining and I don't feel supported by the manager at all. The only suggestion I got was to being her to self isolate with me, which isn't a very practical suggestion as I am still working and my husband is vulnerable too. They have a case of the virus at the flats and that person is now in hospital. I am very torn about what to do, feeling guilty and very anxious myself at the moment. Any hints or tips would be most welcome from anyone! Wishing you all the best at this difficult time.
Welcome to the forum, Laurel2020. Sorry you're not getting the support you should from your mum's housing manager. I live in supported housing with my partner and we are lucky to have a good scheme manager. Have you spoken to the care manager, I'm assuming your mum has a care package, to see if she can be supported with carers taking her out once a day ?
 

Laurel2020

New member
Mar 30, 2020
2
Hello and thanks for your reply. Mum is I her own flat, in a black with others and up until now has been quite independent, so no carers. It is the scheme manager I have spoken to who is less than empathetic! She has no services involved at the moment apart from the elderly MH consultant, who has just prescribed some anti anxiety meds as mum has been getting really anxious, but the current situation has made things much worse, as I think is the case for most on here.
 

Cat27

Volunteer Moderator
Feb 27, 2015
11,676
Merseyside
Hello and thanks for your reply. Mum is I her own flat, in a black with others and up until now has been quite independent, so no carers. It is the scheme manager I have spoken to who is less than empathetic! She has no services involved at the moment apart from the elderly MH consultant, who has just prescribed some anti anxiety meds as mum has been getting really anxious, but the current situation has made things much worse, as I think is the case for most on here.
@Laurel2020 This may be of interest to you.
https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/thr...e-during-the-coronavirus.121642/#post-1711928