As you may know, many long-term care communities in Mississippi have closed their doors to visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the heightened risks to residents, many have been unable to see their loved ones for months. As a result, there are growing concerns that social isolation among those with dementia has contributed to individual decline and stress among family caregivers who cannot assess the health of their loved ones. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 48 percent of nursing home residents are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and, among older adults in assisted living facilities, 42 percent or more have some form of dementia.
Over 57,000 Mississippians are currently living with Alzheimer’s and the number grows every year. In May, the Alzheimer’s Association Long-Term Care Policy Recommendations highlighted the need for rapid-turnaround testing to ensure COVID-19 does not spread in these settings, and although access to testing has increased, a lack of access to rapid, point-of-care testing equipment and supplies have made it difficult to reopen safely for visitors. The only way to end social isolation is to ensure every long-term care community has access to rapid testing for all residents, staff and visitors. Please join me and ask Governor Reeves to ensure access to rapid testing for all long-term care communities here in Mississippi.
Public Policy Manager, Alzheimer's Association, Mississippi Chapter. He can be reached at email@example.com.