Advice from the Alzheimer’s Society
Due to coronavirus, many of us now wear face masks or coverings while out shopping or on public transport. Some people with dementia may not like wearing a face covering, or understand why they should wear one.
A person with dementia might consider wearing a face covering even just walking outdoors in the high street – it could make them feel safer. But you don’t have to wear a face covering in your own home, unless you’re unwell with the virus and self-isolating.
These rules do not apply to a person with dementia if they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to wear a face covering. A reasonable excuse could be:
- They cannot physically put on or wear a face covering.
- Wearing the face covering would cause them severe distress.
- Someone with them needs to read their lips to communicate.
- They need to remove the face covering temporarily to eat, drink or take medication.
If someone such as a ticket inspector or shop assistant challenges the person for not covering their face, explain that they have dementia and can’t. Showing one of our helpcards, or a hidden disabilities sunflower lanyard or exemption card is also a good idea.
What if a person with dementia won’t wear a face covering?
It’s safer for everyone if we all follow the guidance on face coverings. If the person finds wearing a face covering difficult, try to understand why.
Be patient and offer encouragement – if you show frustration or irritation, the person will pick up on this.
- Do they simply forget why it’s needed? Consider a sign up by the door for when you go out. You may need to gently remind the person we’re still in a pandemic.
- Does the mask fit comfortably? Try different styles or looser fastenings if it’s too tight
- Are they unhappy with the feel of the fabric? Try some different materials, maybe one made from a familiar garment (check with them first before cutting the fabric).
- Do they pull the cover down? Try some distraction or positive reinforcement – how wearing a face covering helps to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep people well.
- Are they anxious it will stop them breathing? Offer reassurance and show them that it won’t.
- Is there a past experience that might make them fearful about wearing a mask (perhaps as a young child in the war)? Talk to them about it and try to find ways to reassure them.
If these still don’t work, and wearing the mask would cause the person distress, then you are within the law to give this as a reasonable excuse for the person not to cover their face.
Find out more HERE