Volunteers aim to fight off isolation in Alzheimer's patients, caregivers amid pandemic

Posted at 6:49 PM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 18:49:11-04

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — Rebound Georgia is focusing on the people in our community who are stepping up to help one another during the pandemic.

In south Georgia, volunteers with the Alzheimer's Association are making adjustments due to the pandemic so they can continue to provide critical support for caregivers.

"Just because COVID's come, Alzheimer's has not stopped," said Wendy Beatty, a volunteer with Alzheimer's Association in Thomasville.

Caring for a person with senile dementia is a challenge, but factoring in a pandemic can be overwhelming.

"Cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, everything, it's a daunting task," Beatty said.

The Alzheimer's Association and its volunteers have had to change the way they do things to adapt and support caregivers and their loved ones. One of the biggest changes is transitioning from in-person support groups to virtual.

"We're having to meet some challenges to where these people are becoming more isolated and having to stay in more," said Beatty. "And we're hoping these calls are able to help some of our members."

They've also had to stop visits to train staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

"Now, more than ever, those facilities need that additional training because their residents and their patients have become isolated and quarantined and their stress has really magnified," Beatty said.

It's a time of increased isolation, loneliness, fear and confusion for both those suffering with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Support group volunteers say it's important to reach out in times of crisis, even if it's online.

"It's a safe place for you to air your feelings," said Almeda Simpson, a volunteer with Alzheimer's Association.

"I think that it's nice to know that you're not alone in the caregiving role, because it's tough," Beatty said.

The Alzheimer's Association says there are 540,000 Georgians caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia. If you are a caregiver and need support, you can call the Alzheimer's Association Hotline 24 hours a day at 800-272-3900.