Emotional toll weighs heavy on families, senior loved ones during COVID-19
By Beth Dow, Senior Living Advice
This may be one of the most controversial pieces I have ever written. I don’t mean it to be.
Typically, I avoid controversial issues like the plague, but the guidelines that the state of Georgia has put in place for our long-term care communities has me really concerned. I completely understand the need to keep this most vulnerable population safe from the physical harm of COVID-19. But at what cost when it comes to the emotional well-being of both the resident and the families of the residents?
Gov. Brian Kemp’s original order was put in place on March 14, 2020. On May 28th, the order was extended to July 12, 2020. From the beginning, I very much understood and agreed with, the order to restrict non-essential personnel from Long Term Care Communities. However, the order lumped Assisted Living Communities in the same category as Nursing Homes. These should not be in the same category.
Many residents in Assisted Living Communities are very active, thriving and some even drive their own cars; so issuing the same restrictions to both communities did not seem fair or rational.
Another area of concern is the restrictions on visitations which “generally prohibits visitations, except for compassionate care situations.” What are compassionate care situations? Who gets to interpret what these situations are? What I have most often heard is this refers to “end of life” visits.
But who determines end of life? Is end of life the last three days of someone’s life? The last week? Or the last birthday, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day that they will have?
I have seen first hand the emotional and heavy toll it’s taking on families not being able to see their loved ones. I have read posts from family members desperate to see their love ones, knowing that they are lonely and – in some cases – do not really understand what is going on.
My mom died on June 4th. Thank goodness I was working in the Assisted Living Community where she was living, so I got to see her every day. I can not imagine how I would be feeling right now if I had not been allowed to see her since March 14th.
My intent with this piece is not to stir up controversy, but I want to encourage those who have a loved one living in a long term care community to go to https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-30-nh.pdf and read for yourself the rules. From what the experts are telling us, we are going to see round two of this virus in the fall.
Our days with our parents and other aging loved ones are numbered. I just don’t want anyone to lose precious time. There is an emotional toll these restrictions are taking that may be more deadly than the virus we are trying to avoid.
Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s educator, CAEd, Geriatric Case Manager and Certified Senior Advisor. Contact her at [email protected] or by calling 678-876-5118.