LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted July 27, 2020
When our mother's dementia progressed, our family began to research and visit local care facilities. Good references, a personal visit and related experience with the Ingham County Medical Care Facility's ("Dobie Road", Okemos), helped us choose the Golden Pond, Memory Care Unit.
When Covid-19 struck Dobie Road was no exception; everything changed regarding our ability to provide direct family care, love, and comfort to our loved one. Phone calls, Skype and window visits helped, but proved difficult and did not nearly come close to personal visits for me and my siblings.
The latest "end of life" restrictions were too much to accept for our family, only allowing two designated family members to visit one hour per day until she passed. That, combined with an additional life-threatening health event and our intent to have her home in her final days regardless, we decided to bring our mother home to spend time with loved ones.
Dementia is a horrible disease, and Covid-19 only made it worse for our mother. The Golden Pond caregivers were outstanding; the services at Dobie Road were and remain exceptional. But with the new restrictions, (given "end of life" process), we made the right decision to take our mother home. We now provide necessary services through Hospice, and equally important, family care, love and comfort that only a family care provide.
Our mother and family are among Michigan's 190,000 persons living with dementia and its 518,000 unpaid caregivers navigating an already isolating and emotional journey - and COVID has made life even more challenging. COVID has put added stress on dementia patients and their caregivers, in and out of long-term care facilities.
Fortunately, the Alzheimer's Association Michigan Chapter is ready to assist persons with dementia and their caregivers 24/7. I personally have benefited and feel so grateful for their help. Monthly Support Group meetings held at Dobie Road, I listened to the stories of other families and found acceptance.
The Association - which is available 24/7 via its Helpline at 800.272.3900 or alz.org/gmc - is offering more virtual education programs, caregiver tips, support groups and services to help individuals, caregivers, practitioners, and facilities navigate dementia during COVID. Unfortunately, many affected individuals and families are unaware of the resources that could help them.
Dementia can quickly zap a person's memory and caregiver's ability and intent to care for their loved one. It is important for any caregiver to seek and get personal support. Surrounded by family we are creating new memories with our mother.
The Alzheimer's Association can help. Reach out today.
Michael E. Botke
DeWitt, MI 48820
(Family of Marguerite I. Botke)