CHARLESTON, W.Va. — You’re not alone.
That was the message Sharon Rotenberry, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter, had for the 38,000 West Virginians living with Alzheimer’s and their estimated 105,000 caregivers in the early days of Governor Jim Justice’s stay-home order.
For those people, Rotenberry said even normal days can come with feelings of isolation.
Things lately have been far from normal.
Until further notice, West Virginia residents were being instructed to remain at home except for essential trips to work, if applicable, grocery stores, pharmacies or scheduled appointments with doctors.
“The addition of a stay-at-home order for people who might be available to otherwise help can be a little more challenging and it can make them feel even more isolated,” said Rotenberry.
The potential for transmission was also a concern.
Support services were available through the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.
Another place to start was ALZ Connected.
“Right now, it doesn’t matter where they’re (support groups) meeting because they’re meeting through conference calls so we can give you numbers and days and times that may work for you,” Rotenberry said.
As of Thursday, Rotenberry said informational flyers about the Alzheimer’s Association’s support services had gone out through senior centers statewide and, in some cases, via Meals on Wheels as well.
Support is available for those in homes, adult day services residential and assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
For many of those in facility care, visitation has been limited.
“People with memory issues may not completely understand. They may have enough memory to know they’re not being visited and some of them don’t have enough memory to know that they’re not being visited,” said Rotenberry.
“I know for the families, it’s very stressful. Some facilities are allowing them to come and stand outside the window when it’s pretty to talk to and wave at their loved one.”
In other cases, video chats and other alternative communication methods were being utilized.
Like many, Rotenberry and other employees with the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter have been coordinating services remotely for present care and the ever-changing future.
The chapter’s phone number was 304-343-2717 with access to staff throughout the Mountain State.
“We don’t know how long this future is going to be in place, but there are resources out there and there is outreach out there,” said Rotenberry.