By Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter
The headlines about the risks posed by COVID-19 are scary enough, which is why we all must continue to wear masks and social distance. But if you are a caregiver for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, you understand the social isolation many of us have had to experience over the last year carries an additional cost.
More of our loved ones with Alzheimer’s – roughly 21% more than expected
* – have passed away during the coronavirus pandemic, but not directly due to the virus. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these individuals are dying at higher rates than normal as doctors report increased falls, pulmonary infections, depression, and sudden frailty. This may be, in part, because of the emotional and psychological strains of being separated from loved ones during an extremely stressful time, causing confusion and frustration.
The good news: more and more COVID-19 vaccines are being given to our seniors and most vulnerable populations every day as well as to caregivers and residents in nursing homes, memory care units and assisted living residences. While widespread vaccination will take time, we are turning a corner and will once again be able to give hugs to loved ones, have dinners with friends, and celebrate important milestones.
I understand the challenges families face providing care for loved ones in these difficult times. The Alzheimer’s Association does too, and they have assembled valuable tips
for families on how to navigate these challenges.
Please know that I and other members of Congress are working on your behalf to help address the challenges posed by COVID. We are working to pass the next COVID relief package which will help improve vaccine production and distribution and provide additional support for our long-term-care communities, including personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and surge staffing assistance.
I will continue to do what I can in Congress to ensure long-term care communities have the resources they need to support Coloradans living with dementia. If your family is affected by this disease, the Alzheimer’s Association can help – all of their services are provided at no cost to you. Reach out to them at any hour of the day or night at alz.org
or 800-272-3900. Let’s continue to do our part by wearing a mask and social distancing until we can safely be together again.
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.