A Cork-based family carer has spoken of the enormous challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Helen Higgins, said Covid-19 has been an "extremely challenging time" for her and her husband and that his care needs have increased greatly since the pandemic started.
"He found the restrictions during Covid-19 very hard and things like social distancing have been difficult for him to understand.
"I have been unwell during this time myself and my health impacted.
"It has been so isolating. I feel we have been the forgotten people during Covid-19," she continued.
Her comments come as a stark report from The Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) detailing such challenges has been published today.
The report found that the pandemic has led to a significant and irreversible deterioration in the condition of many people living with dementia – with their world becoming smaller and more frightening.
The researchalso found family carers to be at breaking point – with their mental and physical wellbeing seriously affected.
"Their struggles include heightened exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, grief, helplessness and despair," ASI CEO Pat McLoughlin said.
"Other relationships and responsibilities, such as children or work, have also paid a price.
"The fact that there was no prioritisation of family carers in the vaccine rollout has left these people feeling abandoned."
Mr McLoughlin also said many people living with dementia have experienced "irreversible deterioration" over the past year.
In response to the report, The ASI has set out multiple recommendations.
"These families feel angry, betrayed and frustrated and we need the Government to take additional measures to address their needs.
"We now need to see urgent and safe re-opening of day care centres and social clubs.
"Our research found that family carers’ need for practical support almost tripled in the past year rising to 70%.
"They also need access to emotional support, including counselling services," Mr McLoughlin said.
The report can be viewed on www.alzheimer.ie