'Burnout' an issue for those coping with Alzheimer's and dementia during pandemic
LONDON, ONT. -- Maggie Perquin’s wife Ruth, who suffers from dementia, is missing the in personal supports she used to receive from the Alzheimer’s Society of London and Middlesex.
“She really misses the people because people are a really big motivator,” says Perquin, Ruth’s wife and caregiver. “She loves going to the programs because she loves the programs and the people.”
Perquin says over the last several weeks, since the in-person programs have been cancelled, she’s noticed a slow decline in her wife’s condition.
“I’m already noticing a lack of motivation and a lack of desire and I just worry the longer we go into this that it will definitely add to the other declines happening naturally.”
With close to 3,000 clients using programs and services, and new clients still calling each day, the Alzheimer’s Society says its trying to find ways to support everyone.
“We are trying to connect with our clients in a virtual way,” say Carol Walters, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society of London and Middlesex. “We are trying to provide one-on-one social work services over the phone or via Zoom and trying to hold support groups.”
But Walters acknowledges that with the clientele being mostly seniors, technology won’t be easy for everyone to access
“That’s why we are also looking at developing recreation kits that we can drop off at people's homes.”
Perquin says in their case, she is tech savvy, but worries about others.
“I worry about family groupings that there is no outside connection because of lack of technology and no one coming in," which she says will be hard on caregivers like herself.
“If this goes on for six months caregivers are going to burn out very, very quickly and we are only a month in and I can feel it already.”
The Alzheimer’s Society is also working on virtual programs and toolkits for caregivers - anything the organization can do to help the thousands of families that rely on them.