Caring for caregivers during the COVID-19 crisis

Local News

LAKELAND, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — We’re all adjusting to changes in our daily lives, especially isolation, but for caregivers of Alzheimer’s and Dementia it can be even harder.

Annette Adams-Brown has been a caregiver since 2012, first for her dad and now for her mom Bertha. They live together, but you could say they’re a bit closer now.

“Around the clock we work each other’s nerves a little bit here and there,” said Annette.

They’re not alone. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter, 70 percent of people living with dementia reside at home and not in a nursing home.

“So that is putting a lot of stress on caregivers right now that 24/7 with oftentimes not a break during the course of the day,” said Cathy James, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter.

For Annette and Bertha, one of the things they no longer have is the physical therapy Bertha was getting three times a week. They also can’t visit Bertha’s sister.

Annette has been working to find ways to keep them entertained. “It does get a little stressful with a lot of the repetition,” she said.

It’s also hard to step away but Annette is focusing on the silver lining — making more memories with her mom. “I look at this as kind of like a blessing. I always try to see the lesson in the blessing amidst the chaos,” she said. “She’s been there my whole life so what better way to return a blessing.”

Annette is also finding time for herself, something she encourages all caregivers to do, especially now. “Make sure you do the kinds of things that are going to fill your spirit.”

She also wants people to be aware of the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter’s 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900. It helped Annette work through the stages of Alzheimer’s and can connect caregivers with others for support and ideas to get through this challenging time.

“Maybe just getting out and going for a drive and isolating where they’re going and social distancing. Maybe it’s just going out in the backyard, a lot of people are again taking advantage of the nice weather,” said James. “Sometimes just reaching out to another individual to know that you’re not alone in this.”

It’s about finding the balance and caring for your loved ones without forgetting about yourself.

“The best you can be for anybody is when you’re the best you can be for yourself,” said Annette.

The Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter says it’s important for every caregiver to find an outlet. If you need help or someone to talk to they have virtual support groups and a hotline at 1-800-272-3900.

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