THERE is a general heightened anxiety about the residential aged care centre Anne Tudor notices when she visits her partner Edie.
Ms Tudor said it was hard for people with advanced dementia where Edie Tudor lived to grasp an understanding of coronavirus or the new strict measures in place, like social distancing. But residents could sense something was different and strange.
This is a reaction Ms Tudor has heard about from those with loved ones in aged care across Ballarat.
Ms Tudor will speak in a free, live-streamed panel alongside health and dementia experts on Tuesday afternoon to share ideas on how to best support people living with dementia. The Ballarat-based national champion for dementia is a special guest for Older Persons Advocacy Network.
While visitor conditions vary between aged care homes, Ms Tudor considers herself fortunate to be able to visit Ms Tudor under strict conditions.
Other residences are in complete lockdown and Ms Tudor knows of partners whose only real choice is to try and make a video or phone call - and this was not ideal for a loved one in care who was not used to such technology.
The difficulty when you visit is many with advanced dementia don't actually understand physical distancing. They don't understand why tables are separated and why people are not visiting as much.Anne Tudor
"Even though there are sensible restrictions, the difficulty when you visit is many with advanced dementia don't actually understand physical distancing." Ms Tudor said.
"They don't understand why tables are separated and why people are not visiting as much. You are supposed to visit people in their room but if Edie is in a common room with others, she would not understand if I said let's go and talk in your room - she would think it was really weird.
"There seems to be a build-up of anxiety. Edie by nature is a calm person, for her it is in not sleeping at night. She gets up and wanders around. Anxiety comes out in different ways for different people."
Ms Tudor tries to keep things as normal as possible. She must make an appointment to visit Edie with their dementia assistance dog Melvin and there is a half-hour time restriction on how long she stays.
Staff also take visitors' temperatures and survey visitors on how they are feeling. From May, all visitors must have evidence of having had a flu vaccination.
Ms Tudor said this was a difficult time for everyone and it was important to try and stay connected as best possible
The OPAN webinar is on Tuesday at 3pm. Bookings via Eventbrite here.
For extra advice, contact the national dementia helpline: 1300 100 500.
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