FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — There are more than 350,000 people in Tennessee acting as caregivers to someone with Alzheimer's or Dementia. Many of them are just taking care of a family member.
That was the case for Amy LaGrant, whose father, John LaGrant had been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia ten years ago.
John and his family had to make a decision, as it took more than just family to take care of him at his home. After the COVID outbreak, John's family felt uncomfortable having a healthcare aide continually entering their home to care for John, possibly infecting both Amy's mom and dad.
They made the decision to move John into a memory care facility, despite the risks that came with care facilities during COVID. It was a risk that became all too real, three weeks after John arrived.
"Unfortunately, he did end up getting covid," LaGrant said.
Five days after the COVID diagnosis, John died.
"I think we had a lot of guilt around that, did we make the right decision? We're running and re-running the scenarios in our heads," LaGrant said.
LaGrant says as millions of aging baby boomers are projected to be diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's disease in the coming years, she wishes she would have had more help to guide a seemingly impossible decision.
"I just need resources, I need somebody to sit in my seat and say, 'How do we make an already heart-wrenching experience a little bit easier?'," LaGrant said.
They are conversations that LaGrant admits are tough for anyone. But she says resources and help during the next pandemic can help everyone focus not the disease, but the person.
The Alzheimer's Association offers a free, 24/7 Helpline to support caregivers helping a loved one with dementia and Alzheimer's. You can reach the helpline at 1-800-272-3900.