Since the pandemic began, Dan Goerke’s wife, Denise — 63 years old and afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease — had declined dramatically. Left alone in her nursing home, she had lost 16 pounds, could not form the simplest words, no longer responded to the voices of her children. In recent weeks, she had even stopped recognizing the man she loved.
Goerke could tell the isolation was killing his wife, and there was nothing he could do but watch. “Every day it gets a little worse,” he said. “We’ve lost months, maybe years of her already.”
In interviews with The Washington Post, people with dementia who are still able to communicate said they felt trapped and doomed. Activities that used to stimulate their minds — music therapy, game nights, Jazzercise — have ground to a halt. At most facilities, residents aren’t even able to eat lunch together anymore. Without the social and mental stimulation that are among the few tools that can slow the march of dementia, the affects of isolation have been devastating.
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