The Care & Share Alzheimer’s Support Groups in Peshtigo and Menominee have been on hold because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This has proven very difficult for those caregivers and families of loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. There is added stress for both the caregiver and their loved ones with this disease because of the isolation caused by the virus. Those caregivers who typically attend the weekly Care & Share meetings have missed the group face-to-face problem-solving sessions they once had. Once able to visit their favorite grocery store, bank, senior center and other places, they are now at home, staying safe, as safe as they can be. Visits by relatives and friends are few if any, for fear of exposure by those who could expose them without knowing they are positive.

Simple tasks like grocery shopping and many other errands have been increasingly difficult for the caregivers as well. “I can’t take her with me and risk us both getting exposed to the virus, and how can I be sure that someone I ask to stay with her is negative for the virus?” These are only some of the daily struggles added to those that already existed before the pandemic.

Those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are isolated, unable to have visits from family and friends. Should families consider placement because it’s needed, or do their best to have more help to maintain care at home? Is help available for home care, and is it safe to do so? What are the changes a family must make at home to accommodate the process of full-time home care? What is the cost of private pay home care?

Nursing homes and other care facilities in our community are working very hard to keep their residents safe during this time. Local hospitals and clinics are practicing safe screening at their facilities as well. Hospice and Home Care is available for those who qualify. Private pay caregivers are also available. The ADRC of Marinette County, the Marinette County Elderly Services and the Alzheimer’s Assoc., Green Bay Chapter are links to resources for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Some families are now communicating via Zoom and other networks, easing the prolonged isolation. Through all of this, or maybe because of it, I see families coming together to do what is best for their loved one. There’s a sense of teamwork, brainstorming to solve these issues to make the best decisions with the available resources. Their objective is to keep their loved ones safe, and peaceful! I extend my deepest personal gratitude to all of you!

The Care and Share Alzheimer’s Support Group of Peshtigo and Menominee will resume our Wednesday meetings when it is safe. Please watch for the announcement.

June Ehlers is the facilitator of the Care & Share Alzheimer’s Support Group. People may contact her at 715-582-3589; cell 715-938-3589 or email at jmehlers@new.rr.com.