Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Tips for Carers, Families and Friends of People Living with Dementia

For everyone

  • Be mindful of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) such as fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness and shortness of breath. If you display any of these symptoms, contact your doctor for advice or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080.

  • Practice proper hygiene:

    • Tips on proper hand washing can be found on the World Health Organisation website.

    • If you cannot get to a sink to wash your hands, hand sanitiser or anti-bacterial hand wipes may be a quick alternative.

    • Try to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, instead of your hands, and ensure the tissue is discarded in the bin.

    • Make sure that any visitors wash their hands or use hand sanitiser.

    • When cleaning pay attention to things that are handled often, such as remote controls, door handles, taps and phones.

  • This is a stressful time for many people in our community. Find some tips to reduce your stress here.

  • For the most up to date information and advice about coronavirus visit the Department of Health website.


For primary carers

  • It is important to stay connected as much as possible at this time. You may not be able to have visitors but keeping in touch with friends and family over the phone or on Facetime may help.

  • We are aware that many social activities and respite programs have been cancelled
    or limited during this time. Unless you or the person you care for are required to self-isolate you might find it helpful to structure your day and include activities that you and the person you care for enjoy. You may schedule time for a walk, or spending time in the garden, calling a friend or family member, listening to music, reading or watching a television show or movie. The Dementia Australia Library also has a number of e-books and audiobooks available online (www.dementia.org.au/library).

  • If you are required to self-isolate but the person you care for is not living with you, there are some things you can do to continue to support them.

  • Contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 and encourage other carers to do the same.


For family, friends or neighbours

  • Do not visit if you have any signs or symptoms of illness. 
  • Ask how you can help. If you know someone living with dementia who is self-isolating you may be able to help with tasks such as grocery shopping, collecting medications or dropping off library books or jigsaw puzzles.
  • Many aged care facilities may go into lockdown and restrict visitors in response to coronavirus. These procedures are in place to protect residents from visitors who may be carrying the virus, but as a family member it can be difficult if you are unable to see your loved one. If you are in this situation you might find it helpful to: 
    • If you can visit, engage in social distancing of 1.5 metres 
    • Bring activities that can be done indoors, such as colouring- in, magazines, folding, sock matching, movies and books. 
    • If you have children, bring in drawings or artworks from them to show that you are thinking of them 
    • Keep in touch. If you can’t visit the person, then stay in contact by phone, post, email, FaceTime or Skype. Let the person know that you’re thinking of them and encourage others to do so as well. 
    • Ask staff if they can keep in touch with regular updates if your loved one with dementia isn’t able to engage with phone calls.  
    • If you are concerned about the response to coronavirus of your service provider, speak to them in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with their response, please contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

Where can I get advice about dementia?

Dementia Australia’s National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 is available to provide information about dementia. We can also give you tips if you find it difficult to follow the Department of Health advice about coronavirus. 

We do not offer personalised medical advice, however we can direct you towards other services and provide support. 


Ideas for ways to pass the time in self-isolation

  • Staying as active as possible is important. Try some gentle exercises either in a chair or around the house. 
  • Put plans in place to connect with others, during this difficult time it may need to be over the phone or via video links.
  • Participating in activities at home such as reading books and magazines, doing jigsaws, listening to music, knitting, watching tv and listening to the radio may help. 
  • Consider sensory experiences such as hand, neck and foot massages, hair brushing, smelling flowers from your garden, or a rummage box that contains things that the person has been interested in. 
  • Why not try some artistic expression? For tips on art at home visit our help sheet.
  • If you have an iPad or Android tablet you can down load A Better Visit. The A Better Visit app features a range of two-player games such as Tic Tac Tango, Marble Maze and Gone Fishing  designed to enhance communication and facilitate positive social interactions between people with dementia, their carers and families.  
  • The Dementia Australia Library has a number of e-books and audiobooks available online. Browse our online collection today at www.dementia.org.au/library
  • There are also ways to explore the world without leaving the couch. Many museums, theme parks and zoos are available to explore virtually. Some of the many to choose from are:

For further advice contact our contact National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500

The Centre for Dementia Learning has a comprehensive range of education programs to help aged care providers address many of the issues raised above. For further details contact 1300 DEMENTIA.

The above information was based on information provided by Alzheimer’s Disease Chinese (ADC) and shared by Alzheimer’s Disease International. You can find the full presentation here.

The coronavirus situation is rapidly evolving. This information is provided as a guide only and may not be appropriate for every situation. Click here for up to date information on the coronavirus.

Dementia Australia would like to acknowledge Alzheimer’s Disease International and Alzheimer’s Chinese for their advice in putting together this help sheet.


Help sheets download

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Tips for Carers, Families and Friends of People Living with Dementia

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Tips for residential care providers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Tips for home care providers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Tips for People Living with Dementia