CHICAGO, Il. (KY3) -5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care to help keep their loved one safe.
Incredibly challenging under the best of times, these families have been limiting outside help during the pandemic, adding to the care giving stress.
Usha Tewari, 45, rarely leaves her apartment. Usha is a government supervisor working from home and the primary caregiver for her mom.
“It’s like she becomes a different person.”
Usha watched Mila become withdrawn and agitated due to Alzheimer’s. Mila suffered two strokes last year. Doctors recommended a skilled nursing facility.
“Because the COVID numbers were so bad, I said, nope, I’ll bring her home. I’ll figure it out,” said Tewari.
Usha advocates for Alzheimer’s research on capitol hill, but care giving right now left her feeling unprepared, overwhelmed and alone. Dama Melendez works with Alzheimer’s families. She says the first step is safety. Eliminate fall risks like clutter and area rugs. Use security cameras to monitor doors, so loved ones don’t wander out. Some families also remove the knobs from appliances.
“It will prevent somebody from turning on the stove, and forgetting that they did, where you are preventing a fire in the home,” said Melendez.
And to maintain health, dementia patients may need posted reminders to their wash hands.
For Usha , there’s a silver lining to the hard work of care giving, spending time with the woman who decades ago cared for her.
“Both of us don’t give up and we just, you know, are a team to make the most of it, you know, day to day.”
The Alzheimer’s Association has moved to virtual training and information sessions for families online during COVID.
Click on the link below for access to care giving, counseling and other information.
Usha says she also found help through the Rosalynn Carter Institute.
You can also call (800) 272-3900.
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