According to the Alzheimer's Association, 60% of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers report extreme stress levels, and with COVID-19, stress can skyrocket even higher.
Susan Ness is the medical power of attorney and caregiver for her sister, who has early-onset Alzheimer's. With COVID-19, she hasn't cared for her sister in the same ways as before.
"I know the caregivers are doing amazing things, they are going out of their way to make their residents feel comfortable and loved, but they can't take the place of family," Ness says.
When Ness moved her sister into a facility, she installed a camera in her room.
"Not knowing what's going on, I think, is what's a big one for families and me. We are fortunate in a way because when moved my sister in, we installed a camera," Ness says.
The camera allows Ness to check in on her sister throughout the day, without risk passing along COVID-19.
"I can pull up the camera and know exactly what is going on right at that moment. I talk to the staff, and I say, 'What's going on?' 'What can we do about this?' and for families that don't have that option, they don't know what's going on," Ness says.
Caring for a patient or family member with Alzheimer's and dementia can be hard on its own, dealing with situations they might not recall.
"As a family member, your remembering that person as they were. My sister has now declined to the point that she doesn't remember some of the stressful days that she has. When she goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning, that's gone. But it's not gone for me," Ness says.
Caregivers need to take time for yourself, and Ness says laughter is truly the best medicine.
"You have to laugh, and you have to take time to be thankful that you can be there even if some days it makes you crazy," Ness says.
For more information on the Alzheimer's Association, click here.