Read our advice on wearing a face mask for people living with Dementia

Read our advice on wearing a face mask for people living with Dementia

Blog & Dementia | 27 Jul 2020

What is the current guidance?

Face coverings are currently compulsory on public transport, in NHS facilities, inside shops and supermarkets in England, from 24th July. Some people with dementia may not like wearing a face covering, or understand why they should wear one.

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. 

For further information, please visit the Government website.

Wearing a face covering helps stop you spreading coronavirus to other people. If you wear a face covering you may also be a bit less likely to catch coronavirus from someone else. You must still keep your distance, and follow good hygiene. You must self-isolate and get tested if you become ill with coronavirus. Older people and those with dementia are at higher risk of severe illness if they catch coronavirus, so should be extra careful to follow guidance on staying safe. 

If you would like to know more about how Age Concern Central Lancashire can support you and a loved one during the coronavirus please see our website here. Or you can also view our other online resources for people living with dementia here.

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.

If you’ve tried everything and your relative won’t wear a face covering, remember that there are other precautions you can take to reduce the risk of the virus. This can include social distancing (i.e. staying at a two-metre distance wherever possible) in addition to regular hand-washing.

You can also print your own exemption card at home or download one to your smartphone from the government’s guidance page. This can highlight to others that you or your relative are exempt from wearing a face covering due to a cognitive impairment such as dementia. This can be carried on public transport and while you’re out.

For additional help please call our Helpline on 01772 552850 option 0