Pandemic has put strain on dementia patients

MARYLAND – Weeks into the beginning of the pandemic, experts noticed the virus devastatingly affected the elderly population. Senior centers were quickly shut down and closed to the public. Operators of these centers say, patients are still feeling the impacts of isolation. “In some ways, isolation has been more of a severe impact than COVID,” says Carol Zimmerman, Director of Aging and Dementia Programs at the MAC Center.

Directors say their patients lives were disrupted with this pandemic, more specifically patients with dementia. These patients already struggle with cognitive functions, but have the added worry of lack of social interaction, which local health experts say is detrimental.

Dr. Michael Finegan, Phd. with Peninsula Mental Health says, “When an individual is taken out of familiar surroundings it is very disconcerting because they have difficulties of acquiring and retaining new information.”

A local clinical psychologist tells 47 ABC, symptoms in patients can range from personality changes, memory loss and even how they perform every day tasks.
Being able to keep a routine and stay active he says, is key to helping. Zimmerman adds, “For all seniors, the isolation, the lack of touch, just the lack of being able to hug loved ones, to see them, it’s been an emotional turmoil for them.”

However, facilities like MAC say they’re working one on one with individuals to try and get them through this pandemic. Although most senior centers have been pretty bare, the resources are there to help them through this. Dr. Finegan says resources are especially needed during this time, he adds, “It’s accustomed tailored approach to the individual and the family resources and other resources that are available to them.”

Zimmerman says, “We had comments about “I want to go to my place” and that’s what they think of it, it’s a safe place.” She adds that she hopes people dealing with dementia will take the time to come to their facility and make it apart of their daily routine.

If you’re a caregiver of someone with dementia, Dr. Finegan says it’s important to take breaks as it can be stressful during this time to deal with loved ones.
If you know someone who would benefit from the program, you can call Margaret White at 410-741-0505 ext. 128 for more information, or visit their website.

Categories: Local News, Maryland