Joanne Miles Thomas looks through a screened window at her father, George Miles Sr., a resident at a facility in Rochester, N.Y., on Oct. 10.Mariana Henninger / NBC News
I am not a Medical Professional, however, I worked in the Home Health Care Industry for several years, including several stints inside an Assisted Living Facility. Over a third of my clients had either Dementia or Alzheimer’s. The following information is completely from my own knowledge and what I have either been taught or read. I hope that it is of some help to everyone.
By now we all know, or at least should know how devastating COVID-19 or technically, Sars-CoV-2 has been around the world. Well, I am sorry to be the one to let you know, however, COVID-19 has harmed far more individuals than the Media has let you now. What do I mean by that? Well, in addition to the symptoms and damage that has already been reported, in addition to the folks in Assisted Living facilities, the folks suffering from Dementia, and Depression have been clobbered by COVID-19 unmercifully. How is that possible that those two groups have been hit harder than other groups? The answer is both simple and complex, I am going to attempt to explain, so please bear with me.
For folks with Dementia, the routine is very important to them as it helps them keep a grip on life. However, the sequestering and lack of human contact causes major disruptions with their routine. Not only that, but due to the fact that they have memory issues, they might not be aware of what is causing their frustration or anxiety. Another issue for them is that due to visitor and travel restrictions, their family members may not be able to visit them, removing a very necessary anchor for both their mental and physical health. This link has a lot of information on Dementia and COVID-19 covid-19-dementia-surviving
If this wasn’t bad enough, there is now evidence that COVID-19 can cause Dementia-Like Problems.
So, what can you do to help out your family members in this situation? There are several ways, unfortunately, they are not cheap. The first is trying to arrange for someone to provide 24-hour personal care. The second one is to get something like Echo Show, Facebook Portal, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or Discord on an iPad or other Tablet to allow some personal interaction, that while not face-to-face, is still very important. For this, you will probably need some assistance from the folks that are caring for your family member, or friend. Not only will this option allow more communication it will allow you to keep a better eye on their mental and physical condition(s). Some more information that although is geared toward UK Residents, a lot of it applies here as well. Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for families looking after someone with dementia.
If any of the methods described above aren’t available, or suitable, a daily phone call will be of immense help, especially if they can be made at the same time every day. If your family member or friend has a window in their room that can be accessed from the outside; go and stand outside the window and show a familiar face, wave, smile, and show pictures of the family. Bring the kids, nephews, nieces, and grandkids, finger paintings, collages, etc… The same things that you would normally do when visiting them. While these aren’t perfect solutions, they will be of enormous help.
Depression and COVID-19
Folks with Depression at any level already have enough problems without having to deal with COVID-19 and its issues. COVID-19 has vastly increased the worrying and anxiety for people dealing with depression. While the rest of the world is dealing with the worry and anxiety as well, the effect on people with Depression and Anxiety Orders, can drastically change the level of the Depression and Anxiety. It has been reported and verified by my Doctor that many more folks are either seeking treatment for their Depression and Anxiety than this time last year. I am one of those people, as some of you know several months ago my Doctor had to put me on Zoloft as my 5-HTP wasn’t dealing with my level of Depression and Anxiety. The enforced isolation was very damaging to my psyche, as almost all personal contact and interaction were forbidden to me and I became a recluse instead of a hermit. I was also forced to endure a fourteen-day quarantine due to exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. I was lucky enough (NOT!), to experience the joys of the Nasal Swab Test. At first, I thought the Doctor was trying to swab my brain instead of my sinuses. I then realized that she was trying to find my ear from the inside. My test was negative, and that was very good news. Although my test came back days before my quarantine ended, I was still advised to continue the quarantine for good measure. Those six days before the test results came back were horrible, as due to my health issues, I am in almost every high-risk group there is.
While I was waiting for my test results, the first reports of long-term lung damage from Sars-coV-2 started to emerge and to be perfectly honest, scared the absolute HELL out of me. I have moderate to severe Asthma and Respiratory Allergies, because of that, my lungs aren’t in the greatest shape to start with. The thought of enduring even more damage to my lungs caused me to start the downward slide down the slippery slope to Severe Depression. I have to thank all of the Fort Family Admins and Authors that were online during that time for helping keep my head above water. So, I was very relieved that my test was not positive, however, I still kept wearing my mask, carrying my spray bottle of Sanitizer and washing my hands until I thought I was going to get Dishpan Hands.
One of the biggest reasons for the increase in Depression and Anxiety, is the lack of personal contact and interaction, yes, the same issues that are causing problems for those people with Dementia. Even for folks like myself that are normally practicing hermits, forced isolation is a major problem. Human Beings for the most part are herd animals and need interaction with other human beings. Without that interaction, stress increases as does the level of Depression and Anxiety. The Risks of Social Isolation. Forced Isolation does crazy things to your brain chemistry, and that can lead to more physical and mental issues. Face-to-Face Social Contact Reduces Risk of Depression.
Another facet of Sars-coV-2, Social Distancing and Self Isolation is the increase in cases of Cabin Fever. Cabin Fever can lead to increasing levels of Depression and Anxiety. Some of the methods of dealing With Cabin Fever described in the article are also excellent ways to deal with Increased Depression and Anxiety. I have been trying to write more creative words, as well as finish unfinished projects, both writing and domestic. Finishing a project of any type can give your mood a healthy lift.
It is extremely important to realize that if you know anyone that is suffering from any level of Depression or Anxiety that you make an effort to stay in contact with them during these perilous times. Just saying hello, sending e-cards, flowers, etc. Can go a long way to help them cope with the situation. The same things that I mentioned for Dementia patients are helpful for folks with Depression and Anxiety. Just knowing that people care and are trying to help can be a big help.
Make sure that any family member that is in any of these situations gets a Flu Shot, now, not later.
Elderly and Isolation
Social Distancing and Self Isolation doesn’t just affect the ill, it also affects the healthy. This Pandemic has closed or canceled a lot of the places and activities that Seniors use for socialization. The few things that are still functioning like Meals on Wheels are stretched beyond their limits. With Senior Centers either being closed or open with lots of restrictions, many Seniors are now completely isolated. That is unless they have a Caregiver coming in to perform housekeeping chores or provide companionship.
Many Seniors in my small town visit the Senior Center several times a week to partake in the Tai-Chi Classes, Line Dancing, Canasta/California Rummy, Bridge, Pinochle and Bingo. They also stop in several times a week to enjoy lunch and socialize with friends. However, all of those activities and congregate meals are on hold until further notice.
So, what does this all mean, simply that without socialization the chance for Depression and Anxiety increases? People don’t realize how important a simple thing like standing and talking to a few friends is. Even healthy Seniors can fall prey to Depression and Anxiety when their routines, especially socializing are disrupted by Isolation and Social Distancing. People forget how powerful a Hug and a Smile can be.
So, what can we do to help? Phone calls maybe get something like Echo Show, Facebook Portal, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or Discord on an iPad or other Tablet to allow some personal interaction. Unfortunately, a lot of the Seniors in my town don’t have computers, and those that do, use them only to play Solitaire. However, most of them do have a phone even if they may be landlines, but the sound of your voice can go a long way to fight their isolation.
In case some of you may not quite think that this is as serious issue as I have tried to portray please read this article: hidden-covid-19-health-crisis-elderly-people-are-dying-isolation-n1244853
Here is another link that tells the tale as well https://apple.news/ATF2pXEtKRQ6660CBj8DFfA
Please do your families and friends a favour and reach out to them. Not only will you make their day, you just might save their life!
Darryl’s Contemplative Comments:
I want to thank Story Lover for this informative information and amazing if not frightening knowledge.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
Art’s Insightful Comments:
This is so necessary. My Mom suffered from dementia, and when she was hospitalized after a fall, they recommended a convalescent home so she could get physical therapy. No in-person visiting was allowed, and a day before her release she suffered a massive stroke. The closest hospital did not have a bed for her, and in-home hospice was recommended. Of course, you all know she did not survive, but she did fight death and lasted a month, long enough for me to be with her at the end. She died just 10 days before her 99th birthday. Thank you TSL for putting into words what I’ve seen with my own eyes just last month.