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Alzheimer’s, dementia deaths increase during COVID-19 pandemic

DETROIT – George Pitchford knew his wife, Bettie, a retired educator whose once lively mind was lost in the fog that is Alzheimer’s, was only going to get worse. But he hadn’t expected her to die, at least not so soon.

It started with the coronavirus pandemic, Bettie’s ramped up decline. 

The nursing center where she lived closed to visitors and everything changed. George and a legion of family friends were no longer allowed to take Bettie on the walks she so greatly enjoyed.

Within months, she was in a wheelchair. They saw her only through window visits or via FaceTime calls, neither of which were especially productive. 

Bettie seldom spoke. And after awhile, the glimmer of recognition that appeared in her eyes when she heard George’s voice disappeared. She didn’t want to eat. “All these things just sort of fed on each other,” George Pitchford said.

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