Nova Scotia

Those with Alzheimer's, dementia struggling with pandemic isolation

People living with Alzeheimer's or dementia are finding the pandemic is placing an increased burden on their lives. Isolation brought on by the lack of social interaction is one of the causes.

Lack of social interaction, programs add strain to everyday struggles

People living with Alzheimer’s and dementia say they are feeling even more isolated during the pandemic. (Jessica Phelps/Associated Press)

People living with Alzeheimer's or dementia are finding the pandemic is placing an increased burden on their lives.

Isolation brought on by the lack of social interaction is one of the causes.

Faye Forbes is a board member with the Alzheimer's Society of Nova Scotia. She lives with dementia. 

She said she's lucky because she lives with her daughter, but she finds the isolation from community difficult.

Faye Forbes, who lives with dementia, is a board member for the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia. (CBC)

"Community is very important to someone with Alzheimer's or dementia," said Forbes. "It keeps them active. It keeps their brain thinking and it's fun."

Linda Bird, the director of programs and services for the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, said many of their social programs have had to be shut down because of provincial regulations, and also because it was decided it was the best choice to cancel programs.

Linda Bird is the director of programs and services for the Alzheimer's Society of Nova Scotia. (Radio-Canada)

She said their clientele is generally over 65 and at a heightened risk from COVID-19.

She said now that there is less attention on programs there can be more emphasis on providing support and information over the phone.

On top of programs being halted, it has become more difficult to get someone to come in to provide respite for caregivers. Some long-term care placements have been put on hold.

"They are getting tired, frustrated, and doing the best they can, but it's hard," Bird said of those providing care.

Increase in virtual communication

Forbes said online communication has definitely helped her during the pandemic.

"There's also some good that came out of it because people have reached out in different ways that they wouldn't normally have reached out, like Facetiming," said Forbes.

There will be a Zoom panel Thursday evening to discuss the symptoms of Alzheimer's and dementia and what can be done in support of those trying to cope.

With files from Information Morning Cape Breton

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