New guidance released Monday by the Alzheimer’s Association in collaboration with 34 long-term care industry associations and operators is designed to help ensure the delivery of high-quality care for people living with dementia in long-term care and community-based settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new document provides care tips in several areas, including:

  • Preventing illness;
  • Providing person-centered care;
  • Helping families and friends stay connected; and
  • Monitoring and responding to dementia-related issues, including assistance with eating and drinking, mobility and observing and responding to dementia-related behaviors.

The guidance incorporates evidence-based strategies from the Alzheimer’s Association’s Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, released in 2018.

At least 42% of older adults living in residential facilities, including assisted living and memory care communities, have some form of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, according to the 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. The COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges for them and for the people caring for them, said Doug Pace, NHA, director, mission partnerships, Alzheimer’s Association. Those living with dementia can be especially frail and vulnerable, and providers may be facing staffing shortages now, he said.

“In emergency situations, long-term and community-based care providers may experience staffing shortages or have to use non-clinical staff to assist with care. This document can be used to focus staff very quickly on the most important considerations in caring for persons with dementia,” Pace said in a statement. “It emphasizes person-centered care, which is the essential starting point for delivering optimal care. Individuals living with dementia thrive best with a consistent routine and with person-centered approaches. During emergency situations, these practices are even more important.”

Among the 34 industry associations and senior living and long-term care operators collaborating on the release of the guidance were Acts Retirement – Life Communities, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, the American Assisted Living Nurses Association, the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, the American Seniors Housing Association, Argentum, Artis Senior Living, Brandywine Living, Brightview Senior Living, Brookdale Senior Living, Five Star Senior Living, Genesis, HCR ManorCare / Arden Courts Memory Care, LCS, Presbyterian Homes and Services, Senior Star and Van Dyk Health Care.