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Not alone: Alzheimer’s Association takes strides toward safety, connections

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(WBNG) -- With the COVID-19 pandemic closing schools and businesses, and changing the way of life for many people around the globe, the Alzheimer's Association's Central New York Chapter is letting people know its still here to serve those who need help.

According to the association, more than five million Americans live with Alzheimer's disease.

Director of Programs and Services for the Central New York Chapter Kristen Campbell is encouraging primary caregivers and families to take action in case of coronavirus complications.

"If someone is the primary caregiver for a loved one, we are really encouraging them to look and identify second caregivers," Campbell said. "[Look for] other family members or friends that could help out in the event that the primary caregiver becomes quarantined."

From reminding people to wash their hands, asking pharmacists about filling prescriptions for a greater number of days, and planning ahead, Campbell believes caregivers can be of great benefit to their patients.

"That's something where the caregiver can really play a role to make sure the individual with dementia is practicing that," Campbell said.

Campbell explained dementia or Alzheimer's doesn't create a direct risk for COVID-19, but did mention other factors that could, such as older age and chronic health conditions.

The chapter has moved in-person meetings and programs to online resources and chats in order to maintain social distancing recommendations by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and to keep individuals, families and caregivers safe.

Online connections have been popular in recent weeks, and Campbell stressed the importance for families to maintain contact with their loved ones.

"To be able to connect with family and friends, and have that reassuring voice can be a tremendous support for the individual with cognitive impairment," Campbell said. "Just to know that their loved one is being cared for wherever that may be."

For more information about Alzheimer's disease and programs offered throughout New York State and here in the Southern Tier, click here.

The number for the helpline is 1-800-272-3900.

For more coronavirus coverage, click here.

Cal Dymowski

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