The coronavirus pandemic is causing disruptions to normal routines and requiring thousands of people to isolate, particularly high-risk individuals such as senior citizens and those with serious health conditions.
At the national level, organizations like the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America have opened hotlines for caregivers and families to ask questions.
“Families across the country caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease are having to make changes and adaptations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. While the coronavirus is forcing many of them to isolate, it doesn’t mean they are alone,” said Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “Whether they have questions about safeguarding their loved one’s health, addressing isolation, making alternative care arrangements or just someone to talk to, licensed social workers are available to help.”
Locally, assisted living centers like Harbour Manor in Noblesville are working to assure family members that their loved ones are safe and happy after visitor restrictions were implemented nearly three weeks ago.
Although some exceptions are being made for end-of-life scenarios, visitors are still limited to two at any given time, and all visitors must fill out a questionnaire and have their temperature taken, among other measures, before being allowed to enter any resident area.
Social media has played an important role for CarDon, Harbour Manor’s parent company, letting residents communicate with loved ones by sharing messages without physical contact or risk of spreading the virus. Since March 13, photos have flooded the CarDon Facebook page, each with a resident sharing a photo of themselves along with a whiteboard-written message to their family and friends.
Social distancing is practiced internally, too, by residents taking meals in their rooms instead of in community dining areas and staff being screened daily for fever and symptoms of respiratory illness.
The AFA Helpline, staffed by social workers and also trained in dementia care, is helping family and staff at facilities like Harbour Manor with questions or situations that are likely unprecedented, from cleaning practices to daily activities for those combating isolation.
Families can connect the AFA Helpline in any of the following ways by calling 866-232-8484, using the helpline’s web chat feature at alzfdn.org or sending a text message to 646-586-5283.