Alzheimer’s during the pandemic


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — People living with Alzheimer’s during the pandemic may run into some challenges when it comes to remembering to take the recommended precautions to prevent COVID-19.

As people everywhere navigate the new normal the COVID-19 pandemic has created, masks, social distancing and hand hygiene are in the forefront of people’s mind’s.

But for those with Alzheimer’s or other memory issues, those precautions can be easily forgotten.

“There was a lot of, why are you wearing that? What’s going on?” Brittany Foos said.

Brittany Foos works with memory care residents at Good Samaritan Prairie Creek. She says the pandemic has been hard on residents.

“This is how we communicate with them and now I have to cover half of that. And it’s very difficult because we have to learn new ways of communicating to them that they can also understand,” Foos said.

“If somebody has memory impairment like with Alzheimer’s, the person might well struggle with recalling to use a face mask, understanding why it’s being recommended and certainly may just resist wearing it altogether,” Dr. Jerome Freeman said.

To help, Sanford Health neurologist Dr. Jerome Freeman says a modeling approach should be used.

“If a person with Alzheimer’s has loved ones around who are wearing face masks and coping with that, that can, in turn, make it easier for the person with Alzheimer’s to adopt the masks. So modeling I think is, is really important,” Freeman said.

“It’s easier to accept the more we do it, the more it becomes the norm,” Foos said.

Most importantly, Freeman urges people who are caring from someone with Alzheimer’s to be patient, while helping them understand just how important these precautions are.

“This has become somewhat of a controversial issue in our society, but the overwhelming medical evidence is that face coverings and social distancing does help. And we are at a very, very critical time, nationally, and locally right now,” Freeman said.

For more information about helping people with Alzheimer’s during the pandemic, click here.

South Dakotan’s can also call the 24/7 Alzheimer’s Association Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

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