Providing care for a loved one with dementia can leave people feeling isolated in the best of times. The new “Stay at Home” order issued by the governor may have increased this feeling of isolation. The Alzheimer’s Association wants everyone to know, they’re here.
“Our employees have always had the ability to work remotely, because we are often out in the community,” said Sharon M. Rotenberry, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association WV Chapter. “All of our employees are working from home reaching out to the community. We’re transitioning our support groups around the state to be accessible through conference calling and/or webex, according to the preference of the group. Our 24/7 HELPline (800) 272-3900 is open, where you can speak to a qualified professional when you call. We’re still here as well. Our office number is 304-343-2717. You can speak to our staff around the state if you call that number.”
Rotenberry wants to make it clear that the Alzheimer’s Association can be a lifeline during this time. “We’re contacting senior centers around the state that provide Meals on Wheels and ‘Grab-&-Go nutrition services to seniors. They have been fantastic partners in circulating flyers with our free HELPline, online resources, and local contact number,” Rotenberry said.
While the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health of millions in this country and around the world, the novel coronavirus presents unique challenges for more than 38,000 West Virginians living with Alzheimer’s and their 105,000 caregivers. Necessary public health strategies aimed at limiting contact with others challenging for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias because they rely on family caregivers and others to live their daily lives. This reality affects these individuals across all settings, including home, adult day services, residential and assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
To help family caregivers navigate the current complex and quickly changing environment, the Alzheimer’s Association is offering additional guidance to families, including:
Help people living with Alzheimer’s practice safe hygiene. People with Alzheimer’s and other dementia may forget to wash their hands or follow other precautions to ensure safe hygiene. Caregivers are encouraged to be extra vigilant in helping individuals practice safe hygiene.
Anticipate and prepare that current care and support options may change. Public health containment strategies for COVID-19 may change over the next several weeks. It’s important for families to anticipate these changes and make plans for filling gaps in caregiving.
Clarify residential care facility communication policies. In order to protect the health of their residents, many facilities are restricting access to outside visitors, so it’s important to ask how you can get updates on your family member’s health and how you can communicate with loved ones during the current crisis. Ask to see if phone calls, including video calls, will be offered and how best to coordinate.
If you are interested in more tips aimed at helping families affected by Alzheimer’s navigate the current COVID-19 crisis, contact the 24/7 HELPline at 800-272-3900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.