Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Foundation of America

Safety Tips for Essential Workers Who Have Loved Ones at Home with Dementia-Related Illnesses

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Offers Advice for Essential Workers When They Come Home to Their Loved One

(April 7, 2020)—  Every day, there are men and women leaving their homes to provide essential services during the coronavirus pandemic, putting themselves at risk to do their jobs.  For those who also live with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering tips on steps these workers should take when they return home to help protect their loved one.

“Essential workers, from healthcare professionals to first responders to grocery clerks, don’t have the option of working from home and are selflessly serving our communities.  If a frontline worker has another essential job of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to take precautions when they get home from work to protect their loved one from exposure to the coronavirus,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President & CEO.   “Because Alzheimer’s impacts memory, someone living with it may not be able to remember things like social distancing, washing hands and being mindful of what they’re touching.  They also may not remember that there is an outbreak or that their loved one’s job puts them at greater risk of exposure, making it crucial for the caregiver to be an added line of defense.”

AFA offers the following tips:

Leave what you can at work.  To the best extent possible, don’t bring protective gear such as masks, gloves or gowns into your home.  Leave these items at work (and if they need to be disposed of after use, dispose of them safely at work).

Empty your pockets.  Before going into the house, empty your pockets and leave whatever you can either at work or in your car (i.e. pens, loose change).  For items that you need to bring inside with you (i.e. cell phone, wallet, keys), wipe them down as soon as you get home.

Keep your distance.  Wash your hands immediately and sanitize any items you touched (door knob, countertop, etc.).  Before approaching family or sitting down, remove the clothes you wore at work and leave them in a laundry room or basket ready for the laundromat.  As best you can, keep them out of reach or inaccessible to the person with Alzheimer’s, as they may not know or remember not to touch these items.

Clean up.  Take a hot shower using plenty of soap and shampoo.  Do not touch or come in contact with the person until you’ve done this!

Have family time with peace of mind.  Social stimulation and engagement are very important for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.  Spend time talking with your loved one and/or do a favorite activity together.  Something as simple as listening to the person’s favorite music together can help improve mood, stimulate the brain and strengthen the bond between you.