PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The spread of the coronavirus has created new challenges for everyone, including those battling Alzheimer's Disease and their caregivers.
Thomas and Regina Lockett have been exploring the world, raising a family, and walking through life together for nearly 33 years.
"I would not know what I would be able to do or accomplish if I could not have my caregiver Regina Lockett with me," Thomas Lockett said.
Balancing a full-time job while being a wife and mom, Regina has also taken on the role of caregiver about two years ago when Thomas was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's Disease.
"I think the hardest part is to watch your loved one and know they're struggling," said Regina Lockett.
Thomas played football for the University of Florida and was an avid golfer, but said he started making mistakes on the course and at work he never made before.
"Expense reports would typically take me 30 minutes to do, and 30 minutes started growing to hours, like three to four hours," Thomas Lockett said.
Over the past year, Thomas has stepped outside for walks and exercise, but he's been in quarantine. The coronavirus is causing new challenges with less social interaction and mind stimulation.
"When staying home, it's really taken an effect on the individual because looking for those things to do, different activities where they might be used to going out, as well as putting that 24/7 care on those caregivers," said Victoria DiDio with the Alzheimer's Association.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 580,000 Floridians are battling Alzheimer's Disease, and another 1.2 million family members are helping with their care.
So when the doors closed last year, the Alzheimer's Association started more than 100 support groups in Florida, offering emotional, educational, and social support virtually and over the phone.
"Getting the opportunity to talk to other people that are going through it, it helps," Regina Lockett said.
The services amidst a pandemic have been a source of encouragement and inspiration for Thomas. At only 57, he's accepted his diagnosis, while fighting for his family.
"My whole focus is to just live in the moment. At this point enjoy the life that I have," Thomas Lockett said.
To learn more about the Alzheimer's Association support groups, click here.