Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar

DanDan Goerke has had to speak to his wife from the doorway of her nursing home as the pandemic has forced patients into isolation. 

Dan's wife, Denise, is 63-years-old and has Alzheimer's disease. Denise has declined dramatically since the pandemic began, losing 16 pounds and has had a hard time forming seven simple words. Denise has also stopped responding to the voices of her children. 

Dan has spoken out stating that the isolation due to the pandemic is killing his wife and that all he can do is watch her get "a little worse" every day. 

More than 134,200 people have died from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia since March. Many of these people are dying due to the strategy of isolation that is meant to protect them. Doctors have reported increased falls and depression and sudden frailty in patients that "had been stable for years." 

The isolation due to the pandemic has proven that social and mental stimulation are key tools used to slow the effects of dementia.

All Dan can do his speak to his wife, who can no longer recognize him, through the door for a few minutes a day in attempts to stimulate her memory. "I Still believe a spark of her is in there" Dan said. 

All we can do is keep the hope alive and say a little prayer for families like the Goerkes. 

See William Wan, Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar, Washington Post, September 16, 2020. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  


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