Pandemic takes a toll on those with Alzheimer’s

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:59 PM EDT
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TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and the Alzheimer’s Association said the pandemic has taken a toll on those who have the disease.

Buffy Hankinson, the program director for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Tifton office, said socialization is a major aspect in combatting Alzheimer’s and the pandemic has left many who struggle with the disease feeling isolated and alone.

Buffy Hankinson, Program Manager for the Alzheimer's Association Georgia Chapter
Buffy Hankinson, Program Manager for the Alzheimer's Association Georgia Chapter(WALB)

“We have certainly seen the impact on our population with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Those that maybe were able to go to senior citizens or adult daycare during the day have not been able to have that socialization,” said Hankinson.

Hankinson said that throughout the pandemic they saw many people with dementia pass away or go into a state of depression. During the height of the pandemic, many people put off doctor appointments for their safety.

Hankinson said now that things are opening back up, it’s important to see your physician.

“It is in Medicare now that your general practitioner should be doing a memory test. It’s a simple memory test on you yearly,” explained Hankinson.

Alzheimer's it typically seen in people 65 and older
Alzheimer's it typically seen in people 65 and older(WALB)

Some signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia can be things that are done on a daily basis that a person is no longer able to do.

“Someone with Alzheimer’s usually cannot retrace their steps. You may also see signs and symptoms they can’t complete a simple task that they used to do like sending an email or using the microwave,” said Hankinson.

Although Alzheimer’s is typically seen in people 65 and older, Hankinson said there are more than 200,000 Americans living with early-onset Alzheimer’s. That means people who are 65 or younger can be affected.

Although Alzheimer’s is untreatable, Hankinson said eating healthy, checking your blood pressure, socializing and staying active are all ways you can prevent it.

The Alzheimer’s Association is a nonprofit organization working to help those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

Each year they host walks in Albany, Tifton, Thomasville and Bainbridge to raise awareness.

“Not only is it a way for us to raise money to serve people and give people what they need, but it’s also a day to honor those that we care for and we’ve lost,” said Hankinson.

Hankinson said if you suspect you or a family member may have symptoms of Alzheimer’s, you can call your primary care physician. If you’d like to speak with someone at the Alzheimer’s Association, you can call 1-800-272-3900 or visit the organization’s website.

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