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Lockdown puts vulnerable at higher risk

Seniors with memory problems are at higher risk of danger under the shelter-in-place regulations, a doctor warned yesterday.

Jo-Ann Cousins-Simpson, of Bermuda Alzheimer's & Memory Services — known as Beams — said that strict rules imposed to limit the spread of Covid-19 meant that family members, friends and neighbours were unable to visit the vulnerable.

She added: “They are, therefore, left alone at home without supervision.

“Alzheimer's patients have the tendency to wander and roam dangerous places.”

Dr Cousins-Simpson was speaking after an Alzheimer's disease sufferer who went missing during the coronavirus lockdown died.

Police announced on Tuesday that a body found at Elbow Beach, Paget, was that of Robert Douglas.

Mr Douglas, aged 72, was last seen at his home in My Lord's Bay, Hamilton Parish, on March 24.

He worked at The Royal Gazette before he became an insurance salesman and he later joined the taxi trade.

Dr Cousins-Simpson said that Bermuda's four-week-long shelter-in-place was a “necessity”.

But she added: “There must be necessary and proper preparations put in place to account for, and care for, elderly, vulnerable individuals.”

Dr Cousins-Simpson said that a system should be set up during shelter-in-place conditions which would have a caregiver or another suitable individual to supervise vulnerable people.

She added: “They cannot be left alone at home.”

Dr Cousins-Simpson said that shelter-in-place rules also made it more difficult to trace missing people.

She explained: “Fewer people are up and about so they will less likely be seen by someone who can alert the family members or the authorities.”

Dr Cousins-Simpson said that she believed Mr Douglas would have been found earlier if the shelter-in-place regulations had not been in force.

She added: “The beaches and roadways would have been occupied, so someone could have seen them before they got to the point where they may have an accident.”

However, Mervyn Grant, the brother of Mr Douglas's wife, Roma, said this week that he could not make a direct link between the shelter-in-place regulations and the difficulty in locating Mr Douglas while he was still alive.

He added: “Normally, you would be seen on the street, or someplace. He was never seen — that was our main concern.

“Part of my appeal was when people went out shopping or were out and about getting their exercise or going to the pharmacy, to look out and notify police.”

Mr Grant said that his brother-in-law's Alzheimer's disease might have complicated the search.

He added: “He went off before, but he would come home before night.”

Mr Grant thanked everyone who helped to search for Mr Douglas.

He added: “The police, the regiment — they never gave up.

“They had drones out looking for him, they continued to search and they were in contact with my sister two, three times a week.

“I have to give them kudos. They continued, and I had a lot of people I know who were out on their walks and still searching for him.

“That I am grateful for.”

Beams, founded in 2017, estimates that there are 2,000 people with dementia in Bermuda.

Its website said the organisation provided a range of assistance to people with Alzheimer's and related conditions, including education and medical services, cognitive testing, as well as in-home nursing and assessment.

Coronavirus concerns: Jo-Ann Cousins-Simpson

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Published May 02, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 02, 2020 at 9:30 am)

Lockdown puts vulnerable at higher risk

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