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Alzheimer's patients isolated due to coronavirus finding support in virtual therapy

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) was founded in 2002 with the goal of providing a community for individuals, families and caregivers affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. As coronavirus isolates millions of Americans across the country, the AFA is working harder than ever to ensure that some of our nation’s most vulnerable still have a support system.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Director of Educational and Social Services with the AFA Jennifer Reeder explained how the foundation is creating a connected community through virtual therapeutic programming.

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“Due to COVID-19, we’ve gone from in-person to virtual programming. AFA was founded specifically so families would not feel alone,” Reader said. “And this is something we are greatly focused on during the virus pandemic, because individuals, families need to be staying at home, and this can be particularly difficult for people living with dementia-related illnesses as well as their caregivers.”

The AFA is now offering virtual programming that comes in the form of music, dance, art and other forms of therapy. The classes range in topics such as creating paper bouquets to "disco funk chair fitness" and yoga.

A participant in the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America's chair yoga class.

A participant in the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America's chair yoga class. (Contributed photo)

Reeder explained that the programs help seniors, and particularly those living with dementia-related illnesses, combat isolation and keep them engaged. The classes are also meant to help improve mood, assist with caregiver bonding, and decrease feelings of anxiety.

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“We've been getting amazing feedback on the classes regarding people with dementia-related illnesses,” Reeder said. “It's really helping to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety because now they still have something to do, and they're still able to connect with their caregivers.”

The AFA has a toll-free nationwide helpline at 866-232-8484 that is open seven days a week. Reeder underscored that, despite the new challenges coronavirus is creating, the AFA will not stop its support for those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

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“We've been really trying to find ways to brighten people's day,” Reeder said. “We also want to make sure people know we’re here as a support system and they are not alone.”

Emily DeCiccio is a reporter and video producer for Fox News Digital Originals. Tweet her @EmilyDeCiccio