Dementia patients and carers need help

 

Sir, – Research carried out by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland has found a rise in the cases of immense stress, burnout and anxiety as the result of the impact of the Covid-19 health crisis on their lives and the withdrawal of vital dementia-specific supports and services (News, July 8th).

The new report, Caring and Coping with Dementia During Covid-19, further highlights the crisis aftermath of life in lockdown which has taken an enormous toll on people’s lives, resulting in carers facing crisis, with extra workloads, constant anxiety and exhaustion. As carers are witnessing an alarming deterioration in the health and wellbeing of people with dementia, they are also coping with grief, loss and powerlessness.

This research paints a very dark and disturbing picture of the plight and crisis that people with dementia and family carers now face in life after lockdown, with 86 per cent of carers concerned about a decline in their loved one, while 58 per cent of people with dementia report feeling “lonely”, “isolated”, “trapped” and “confined”.

While many family carers were struggling to cope prior to Covid-19, this crisis has amplified their difficulties and turned everyday caring into a daily struggle, and it is also clear from the report that the health of people with dementia has deteriorated during lockdown.

This enormous toll has only intensified as Covid-19 restrictions on dementia-specific services have continued, despite other lockdown restrictions lifting around the country.

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 daycare and support groups for their loved ones.

It is clear from this report that face-to-face services must reopen as soon as possible and we are waiting for Government guidelines and information on this.

The Alzheimer Society of Ireland has submitted proposals to expand home-care support and the safe reopening of day services to the HSE which are under active consideration.

However, it is clear from this report, and given the very dark picture of people’s reality that it presents, that this wait cannot go on any longer.

In our initial Covid-19 survey in early April, some carers expressed the fear that they would be forgotten in the midst of the crisis. It is so obvious from reading this report that this fear has been realised, as they and those they care for have been rendered invisible throughout this pandemic. – Yours, etc,

PAT McLOUGHLIN,

Chief Executive,

The Alzheimer Society

of Ireland,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.