Coronavirus pandemic, isolation especially hard for dementia patients

Coronavirus pandemic, isolation especially hard for dementia patients

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Doctors and memory care facility directors say Dementia patients do better when they’re able to interact with their loved ones, but unfortunately that has been harder during the pandemic.

For folks by themselves in nursing homes, doctors say the isolation can actually make Dementia patients’ condition worse.

“So he kept trying to open the door, it was locked. He didn’t understand why I was leaving. It ended up being just a more traumatic experience for him than anything else because he thought I was coming there to pick him up, and I couldn’t even hold his hand or hug him, " says Ana Lopez when she tried to visit her father in his nursing home.

Lopez says battling Dementia during the pandemic has not been easy for her father. Ramon is 72 years old, and because of his condition, he’s often unsure of what’s going on. He’s had a hard time being alone in his nursing home, separated from his family, but Ramon is not the only one experiencing this.

“The challenges are just that great because the isolation for the last 10 or 12 months has been tremendous. The disease advances quicker without the socialization of the cognition, the activity to keep them occupied, and keep their brain using whatever cognition they have,” says Barbara Auten who is the executive director of the Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area.

Auten adds that they are getting more calls from caregivers asking for the best way to help dementia patients who can’t visit their family members.

For right now, all eyes are on the COVID-19 vaccine because that could actually lead to progress for the patients.

“With the vaccine there will be that much more chance to socialize, when they feel that the clients in the residence in the nursing homes are vaccinated, and the employees are vaccinated then the socialization can happen,” says Auten.

That socializing is key. The Alzheimer’s Foundation is highly recommending people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia get vaccinated, giving them a shot at getting closer to their loved ones sooner. Plus, it gives them back more of the normalcy they need, even when they can’t remember everything.

If any of you have a relative fighting Dementia, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area is still offering several resources virtually or over the phone to assist caregivers.

You can go to their website here or give them a call at (225) 334-7494.

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