‘I cry regularly’: A year in the life of a caregiver helping his elderly father with Alzheimer’s during the pandemic

National / World

CONNECTICUT (WTNH) – “I would take him to the movies twice a week, that was a big deal,” said Armen Arisian in March 2020 when he was adjusting to isolation at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with his elderly dad, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

He had no idea that isolation would go on for a year.

“I’d like to tell you there’s a happy story there, but it’s just been so, so challenging,” he said, reflecting on the last 12 months.

His father’s health declined as Arisian took care care of his physical and mental well-being.

“We’re watching a little spring training baseball so that’s kind of fun, but his life right now is on a loop, it’s very ‘Groundhog Day.'”

The life of a caregiver can be grueling.

“I cry regularly; I’m overwhelmed by the situation,” he said.

“You’re faced with a superhuman task of trying to care for someone 24-7 in all aspects,” said Jennifer Labrie of the Connecticut Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization offers virtual support groups and online activities to give families some relief.

But nothing replaces in-person help, which she hopes returns in coming months.

“There’s something to be said for hugging each other and holding hands or a gentle touch or being face-to-face and having a meal together,” she said.

“I’ll give him a kiss and he’ll say, ‘Thank you,’ and then he’ll give me one,” said Arisian, who is trying to find magic in small moments.

He sees light at the end of the tunnel with his dad’s second vaccine dose on the horizon.

“Look, I’ve still got a dad to give a kiss to, and I’ve still got a dad to give a hug to…so many people — whether it was COVID or not — aren’t able to do that, so, I’m happy about that,” said Arisian, who is looking forward to taking his dad back to the movies.

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