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Coronavirus Challenges Caregivers And Their Alzheimer’s Patients

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) - The isolation of quarantining during a pandemic brings a new set of challenges to families who care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

Every day, Annette Adams Brown’s mother watches the news, about this thing called the coronavirus and COVID-19.

“Every day it’s kind of like, it’s this new thing that’s out there, when it’s been going on for a month,” Brown said.

Brown’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease. And she hasn’t left her apartment in a month, because of the dangers of catching the virus. Brown is her full-time caregiver, and said the isolation brought on by the fight against COVID has made it more difficult to manage her mother. She’s specifically noticed a change since the pair don’t go on walks or family visits that used to be a daily occurrence.

“But with her just sitting around the house all day, no matter what I try to do, and I try to get her moving every hour or so, she’s very loopy and angry,” Brown said.

Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York CEO Cathy James said her organization is trying to help these caregivers, both at home, and in nursing facilities. For caregivers like Brown, online support groups that have been replaced with online get-togethers are important.

“It’s helpful to have those connections via video and to share, here’s what I’ve tried and listening to other caregivers,” James said.

James said there is also a helpline with experts answering questions 24-hours a day about some of the biggest worries among caregivers.

“What happens if I become sick, and how might I manage this if I need to be quarantined right now?” James said. “And who else among my circle of families and friends can step in this role?”

James said the Alzheimer’s Association can help with these concerns and the everyday things, like ensuring good hygiene practices among family members. For Brown, sometimes it’s looking at the bigger picture that helps.

“Such a beautiful day, I would love to get her to walk around the building,” Brown said. “But it is a task. But I have to see the lesson in the blessin. And I believe for all of this, if we don’t see the lesson that we have to take care of each other, we’re going to be in trouble.”