People with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers face a unique set of challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. In Tennessee, more than 120,000 people age 65 or older are affected by Alzheimer’s.
While dementia itself doesn’t increase risk for COVID-19 illness, experts say associated behaviors and health conditions that accompany memory loss might. Kelsey Williams, program manager at the Alzheimer’s Association in Tennessee, said increased confusion is often a key indicator that a person living with Alzheimer’s isn’t feeling well.
“People with dementia are often under-diagnosed and under-treated for viruses like influenza and other conditions because they can’t communicate verbally that something might be wrong,” Williams said.
She added caregivers can place signs in bathrooms and kitchens as extra reminders to wash hands with soap for 20 seconds, and even demonstrate proper handwashing. And families who need guidance can call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 COVID-19 helpline at 800-272-3900.
Photo: More than 430,000 Tennesseeans are family caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. But are they prepared for dealing with their loved one during the pandemic? (Adobe Stock)