Alzheimer's caregivers supported through virtual programming during pandemic
NEW YORK - "Anyone who takes care of a person with Alzheimer's becomes fragile," said David German of Watermill, New York. " You cry a lot."
German takes care of his wife, Linda. At 68 years old, she is in the late stages of Alzheimer's. During COVID-19, their friends cannot visit and help.
"It's virtually the two of us together. Nonstop. All the time," said German. This can lead to burnout for the caregiver. When the person with Alzheimer's is awake, you have to be on guard the whole time," said German. There's a ton of wondering that can happen, going into drawers, opening things. Many things can go wrong."
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German is getting a tremendous amount of support and guidance from the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Since COVID-19 started, all of its programs have been virtual helping the caregiver and the Alzheimer's patient. Everything from chair yoga to dancing, fitness, and musical entertainment.
"Everything is virtual now," said Charles Fuschillo Jr., the CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, "We've had almost 200,000 people that have watched our programs throughout the entire country."
Experts say it's imperative for people with Alzheimer's to maintain a daily routine of mind and body exercise.
"It's critically important because stimulation of the brain, the social stimulation, whether it's with the caregiver or on a Facetime or chat or watching one of our virtual programs, keeps the mind and body stimulated," said Fuschillo.
And the caregiver needs time alone.
Whether it's meditation or yoga, whatever it is that works for them.
"It has been so helpful to me," said German.
The website for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America communicates in 90 different languages so that language is not a barrier for someone needing help.
The helpline can be reached at 866-232-8484 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.