Families with loved ones experiencing dementia deal with challenges during pandemic

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 11:09 PM AKDT
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It’s difficult for Toni Swearingen to explain to her mother through a video call why she can’t visit her.

Her mom, Betty Peterson, lives in the dementia unit at Providence Horizon House in Anchorage. Protections are in place to keep the residents safe from the virus, including banning visitation.

“Why are we talking on TV,” she asked Swearingen and another daughter, Kay Alley, during a video call. “Why can't you come over?”

Alley explained to her mother, again, she they couldn’t.

“There’s a pandemic, Mom.” Alley said. "The bad virus that’s going around, doing this. This is the best we can do. It sure is good to see you."

Swearingen keeps in touch with her mother through these call. She made an in-person, through-the-window visit once to build a snowman out front for her mother to see.

“She was happy to see us,” she said. “But she was also confused as to why she couldn’t come in.”

Alley said it’s incredibly hard not to see her mother, but is thankful for staff who can be there in person to care for her.

“The Providence Horizon Staff, they have the be the family for the residents because we can't be there,” Alley said.