Coronavirus poses added dangers for adults with Alzheimer's

Posted at 10:02 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 22:52:13-04

NORFOLK, Va. - An already vulnerable population is on the front lines again.

People living with Alzheimer's and dementia are some of the most susceptible to contract the coronavirus.

"The public health guidance is limited connections and social distancing, but that's almost impossible for someone living with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia," says Gino Colombara, the Executive Director of Alzheimer's Association Southeastern Virginia Chapter.

Colombara says people living with Alzheimer's disease need constant care, especially now. They also need to be reminded of daily tasks that could save their lives, like keeping their hands away from their eyes and mouth and washing their hands.

He suggests, "[putting] a note on the bathroom mirror [that says], 'Wash your hands for 20 seconds' - and, you know help ,instruct the individual how to do that."

Given the majority of patients are 65 years and older with other health issues, the coronavirus can hurt them the most.

In addition to that, funding goals for research could be a struggle as the virus worsens.

"We're working with Congress and encouraging them to support the Relief for Charities Act that will ensure funding for all nonprofits."

Colombara urges everyone to contact their local legislators to show support for the bill.

Related: How a Norfolk nursing home is keeping its vulnerable residents safe during the coronavirus pandemic

Events like "The Longest Day" coming up in June are being adjusted. Colombara says the logistics are moving from in-person to online, and so are resources like educational programs and support services for families and caretakers.

The Alzheimer's Association wants the public to know that help is always available, even if that means virtually. If you go to their website, you can find a 24/7 helpline and even live chat with a trained professional.

For now, those with the organization say to keep your distance, check on your neighbors and don't be afraid to ask for help.

"This too shall pass," Colombara says.

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