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Without regular, vital social contact, their world closed in even more.

Lockdown shut many services around New Zealand, including ours.

We couldn’t leave people with dementia and their carers to struggle on alone.

So, we went all out to reach them. We kept in touch regularly by phone, email and video.

We scrambled (literally) to get as many of our support groups and other resources on line as fast as we could – opening up worlds for people living with dementia and care partners.

“It completely opened up my world- suddenly everyone was talking about what I’m dealing with”.

That was Rose’s stunned reaction on attending her first dementia carers support group in Alzheimers Nelson. After years of caring for her husband Tony, who has dementia, Rose felt that carers were left out in the cold.

She and Tony had met and married later in life and only 6 months after they wed, Tony was diagnosed with bowel then prostate cancer, before being diagnosed with dementia in 2017.

Alone and struggling to cope with Tony’s increasing dementia, Rose says it was the tiredness and lack of sleep that got to her in the end. “I became utterly exhausted and reached a point where I just knew I couldn’t do it anymore”.

After Tony went into full time care, Rose was still affected by feelings of guilt and found comfort in attending the support group.

When lockdown came, Rose didn’t think she would be able to adjust to attending her group online. “But then Sue, from Alzheimers Nelson took us through it step-by-step and we haven’t skipped a beat. We talk about all sorts of things online, our experiences with our family members who have dementia as well as other things that completely take our minds off it”.

Rose believes the Alzheimers Carer Support Groups fill a huge gap in support for carers.

“I found a trusted place where I was listened to, accepted and really supported.”

Alzheimers support group meeting over zoom

As lockdown loomed Anne wondered how to find the support that would help her, as she cared for her husband John. Since his dementia diagnosis a couple of years ago, John had shown many of the symptoms of the illness – including confusion and sudden impulses. On one occasion, Anne found black smoke billowing from the microwave and from then on, had to adjust who did what in the kitchen.

Finding that her local Alzheimers support group was offering support by Zoom link-up, was a Godsend for Anne. “I had never used Zoom before, but they made it all very easy”, she says. “It’s the conversations between people who are living with this, that make it so wonderful. Despite being online, it has become quite an intimate little group”.

Anne had long been aware that the stress of being a 24/7 carer, was making her frustrated and impatient, but she had nowhere to give voice to these feelings. As she listened to others with similar experiences and feelings, Anne felt confident to share hers.

“I finally found a trusted place where I was listened to, accepted and supported”. It’s very precious to me”. she says.

We desperately want to connect more people with dementia and their carers to our support groups.

Your donation will help to make this possible. Please continue to support us to take more services to more people with dementia and their carers.

Because for them, the loneliness and isolation of Covid-19 isn’t over.