There are more than 166,000 people living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia in Los Angeles County. Caregiving for a person with dementia is hard and exhausting, physically, emotionally, and financially. Even under the best of circumstances, families often struggle to provide day-to-day care for a person with Alzheimer’s.
Now COVID-19 is disrupting routines and turning care into a potential nightmare for families. Alzheimer’s LA has shifted our services to provide the critical care families need more than ever. Our Helpline remains open, our care counselors are available and working with families every day to help them meet their most pressing needs. Our community outreach department is doing just that: reaching out to our clients proactively to check in on them. What we are finding is a significant increase in anxiety and depression and families on the verge of crisis. They are enormously grateful that we are here for them, but we still worry about all those families whom we haven’t yet reached.
Challenges our clients are experiencing right now
The care for a person with dementia is usually provided by a family member. Twenty-four hour-a-day monitoring of their loved one’s behavior is necessary. This can include agitation, hallucinations, paranoia, and wandering. Even without the COVID-19 epidemic, family caregivers often feel alone, depressed, and anxious; they suffer from sleep disturbance and frequently face social stressors as well, such as loss of income. They tend to be older. With the COVID-19 epidemic, these stressed family caregivers cannot:
- Go to the grocery store with their family member living with the disease; nor can they leave them at home on their own because of safety concerns
- Afford the cost or access the technology for delivery of groceries or other critical supplies, like medications or sanitary supplies
- Get respite from home care providers or adult day care centers
- Receive visits from family members
- Receive visits from in-home nurses
- Keep their loved one calm and active so that they will not wander or stay up all night
Many of the family caregivers we routinely provide services for were already severely stressed, now many feel they can no longer manage. They are even more depressed, hopeless, and anxious than ever. Some mention feelings of suicide.
These families NEED counseling, emotional support, connection to resources, and purchase of emergency supplies (food, adult diapers, medications) so that they can continue to manage at home without putting themselves and their loved one at risk. These individuals are in dire need of assistance.
The team of remarkable professionals at Alzheimer’s Los Angeles is assisting as many families as we can, but our resources are limited.
How Alzheimer’s LA is responding
As always, our services are FREE and available to anyone who calls. We have shifted delivery of our services to focus on technology, but the telephone remains our strongest way of connecting with people. We have an online chat for people who can access the internet, but many of our families either don’t have the technology or are not comfortable with it.
Helpline: Our Helpline (1-844-435-7259) continues to be available and utilized. Anyone can call our Helpline (M-F, 9 am- 4 pm) or chat with a live person on our website (8:30 am- 5 pm). Staff are collecting information on an ongoing basis and maintaining a list of resources—which is quickly changing.
Care Counseling: Our care counselors are social workers who provide personalized consultations for individuals and families facing decisions and challenges associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Care counselors continue to be available to existing and new clients on the phone. We are actively seeking funds to pay for grocery deliveries, medicine, medical equipment, and other supplies for families in need.
Please consider making a gift today to help us meet this and other growing needs.
Support Groups: Support groups have moved to phone or video. Groups are held every day, Monday thru Friday. Ten support groups are offered and are available in both English and Spanish. Call the Helpline for more information.
Education Programs: We are working to adapt our classes and make them available via video. Participants need internet access to participate but can do that from a smart phone. Information about classes can be found on our Calendar of Events page.
Tip Sheets: Four caregiver tip sheets on dementia and COVID-19 are being developed and will be available within a few days to provide additional information for family caregivers.
We know that this is a difficult time for everyone everywhere. And we are all so touched by the outpouring of support we see online and truly heroic acts by our medical community. But Alzheimer’s and dementia are often invisible in our society, and today our families are suffering more than ever.
Please take a moment to help us continue to provide for the growing need for our services during this time. No gift is too small, and every gift is deeply appreciated.
Wishing you all good health and peace,