North Dakota families affected by Alzheimer’s disease struggle with pandemic restrictions

News

All across the country and here in North Dakota, people are struggling to see loved ones living in long-term care facilities.

This is a big issue for those who have family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Caregivers have been doing what they can virtually, but say they’d like for things to get back to normal.

Lisa Groon, whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over five years ago, tells us prior to the pandemic, she was visiting her every day.

“That abruptly stopped, and while we have a good relationship with the administration and the staff in her facility, it’s just really difficult. I certainly believe that there’s a connection between the isolation that my mom experienced during COVID and her cognitive decline,” said Groon.

There are currently 15,000 people with Alzheimer’s in the state.

North Dakota’s Alzheimer’s death rate has gone up 11% since the start of the pandemic. Officials from the Alzheimer’s Association say these individuals are especially vulnerable.

“Many of the things that put people at risk for COVID are the same things that put people at risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It’s all about social distancing and within congregate care settings, that’s hard. So, our position for our organization is that we recommend vaccinations for staff, and for residents,” said Mollie O’Brien.

O’Brein says the sooner people get vaccinated, the quicker families can be reunited.

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