Dementia wards in Pennsylvania hard-hit during the pandemic

Regional News

A person enters The Birches at Newtown assisted living facility, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Newtown, Pa. The deaths at the home and many others across Pennsylvania highlight the dangers that residents with dementia faced during the coronavirus pandemic and a state oversight system that imposed few protections during the worst of the crisis. (Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — In the weeks before she died of COVID-19 in the dementia unit of a suburban Philadelphia personal care home, Barbara Demech often lamented about the Alzheimer’s disease that began gripping her mind a decade earlier.

Like so many people in the throes of dementia, it was difficult for her and others in the “memory care” unit to take the most basic steps — like wearing a mask or social distancing.

The deaths in the home and many others across Pennsylvania highlight the dangers that residents with dementia faced during the pandemic and a state oversight system that imposed few protections during the worst of the crisis.

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