WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic presents special struggles for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Already isolated at home, many family members had no breaks in the 24-hour care of their loved ones — until Monday, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

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Doors finally reopened at Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center and Gladys Hampson of East Meadow was relieved her husband, Bob, can once again attend classes and counseling.

“This is the first time I’ve been here in … a year?” Robert Hampson said.

“The last year of our lives was a big adjustment,” Gladys added.

Quarantines and stay-at-home orders meant Gladys shouldered the burden.

“Parkinson’s and dementia took over. Yeah, it was hard. It was hard because Bob did everything,” Gladys said.

COVID VACCINE

The retired electrical engineer said he now depends on Gladys for everything. He can no longer carve wood or drive a car.

When asked why he can no longer drive, Bob said, “They won’t let me. I don’t know why.”

“Oh the regression has been really, really tremendous with a lot of our participants,” said Tori Cohen, executive director of the Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center.

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One year ago, retired British Airways worker Sal Pascerelli sang opera for CBS2. On Monday, his wife said he is now confined to bed and no longer speaks.

“Is it the progression of the disease or is it depression?” Cohen said.

It has been a year of adjustments, from in person to Zooms, FaceTimes, and a drop-off in activities.

“Chaos can bring opportunity,” Cohen said.

Cohen said her facility is banding with other caregiving groups to broaden outreach.

Special programs like dancing and singing. Socialization, in Bob’s case, is really important,” Gladys said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Alzheimer’s and dementia program directors say as a community and a society it helps to better understand the diseases, because they’re going to be with us until we find a cure.

“There are things I used to do,” Bob said.

“Difficult because I am an active person, and I’m very involved in our church, so I had to step back,” Gladys added.

They are devoted partners and have an organization to help navigate them through the journey.

Jennifer McLogan