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Health of people with dementia dealt a severe blow by coronavirus lockdown

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Frustrating: Seamus Cunningham with his daughter Denise Monahan. Seamus has Alzheimer’s disease.

Frustrating: Seamus Cunningham with his daughter Denise Monahan. Seamus has Alzheimer’s disease.

Frustrating: Seamus Cunningham with his daughter Denise Monahan. Seamus has Alzheimer’s disease.

People with dementia have suffered an alarming deterioration in their health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, a stark new report warns today.

PEOPLE with dementia have suffered an alarming deterioration in their health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, a stark new report warns today.

Lockdown and the closure of vital day services and other supports have left many dementia sufferers and their carers feeling "lonely", "isolated", "trapped" and "confined".

Their plight is highlighted in a report from the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, which reveals how many families now feel "forgotten" and fear there is no end in sight as already overstretched services for this vulnerable group have gone further downhill.

"This situation is being made all the more unbearable as there is currently no information or guidelines on a roadmap for reopening vital services such as day care, Alzheimer cafes and support groups for their loved ones."

It points out: "Family carers who are dealing with grief, loss and a tremendous workload, are often facing this crisis alone".

They feel unable to reach out to family members at this time, with 77pc agreeing that their caring workload has increased since Covid-19.

They lack the stimulation of socialising with friends and some have had speech therapy as well as medical appointments cancelled.

There is particular concern about the "quickened deterioration in symptoms, as reported to them by family carers".

Inherent in carers' experiences is a sense of grief and powerlessness, watching the change on a daily basis as symptoms worsen, it warns.

Denise Monahan, from Tallaght in Dublin, cares full-time for her father, Seamus Cunningham (82), who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago.

The former hospitality industry worker has attended the Alzheimer Society of Ireland's Rose Cottage day care centre in Dublin since his diagnosis.

"The lockdown has proved very challenging for my dad and for us as a family," said Ms Monahan.

"He had no concept of the word virus and so could not understand why he could not go out.

"Dad is a sociable man and it caused him great confusion, not seeing friends, neighbours and family.

"I am worried about the impact it will have on him - he is so used to cocooning now, he just wants to stay in the house.

"Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the lockdown is that my brothers could not visit and now Dad struggles to identify them. The closure of the day centre was a huge loss and now he does not really remember Rose Cottage.

"The worry for me now, the longer this goes on, is that he might not want to go back.

"He used to be the first person on the bus with his suit on ready to go. I fear this time has been lost and we can't get it back.

"It is frustrating that I can get my hair, nails and eyes done and yet this vital service is not available for Dad's social and emotional wellbeing."

Commenting on the findings Pat McLoughlin, chief executive of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said: "This research paints a very dark and disturbing picture. It is clear face-to-face services, such as day care, must reopen as soon as possible.

"We are waiting for government guidelines and information on this. But it is obvious from this report that given the very dark picture of people's reality that it presents, this wait cannot go on any longer.

"We are eager to get this process started as soon as possible."

Irish Independent


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