After nearly three months of sheltering a lot has happened. Hindsight shows the country’s leadership chose to remain unaware and unprepared to handle the spread of Covid 19. Conversations about testing facts and shortcomings of leadership had to be redirected. Within a month Covid 19 was leaving the cities and spreading across the country. Lives in senior communities, prisons, meat packing plants and rural areas were being lost at a quickening pace.
By mid-March senior communities began to ‘isolate’. The month of March just evaporated and so did April! Now towards the end of May, testing is still not correct or mandatory. Each community scrambles to figure their own priorities. Like any business, some are more successful than others.
Volunteer work with the Alzheimer’s Association turned into virtual classes and Zoom support group meetings. The new focal point and critical topic of these meetings turned into the ‘importance of social engagement.’
A different side of Covid 19, surfaced, I call, Isolation Separation; it’s the mental and physical toll both sides experience when physically separated and isolated from a family member. It is hard for those living in communities, it’s even harder for their families and caregivers at home.
After listening to everyone, a common sentiment slowly emerged, ‘It seems I need it more than they do.’ The care giver and family began to realize they were being forgotten. Time stands still for them while reality takes hold, their loved one is slowly leaving. They are not coming back.
Facetime, Zoom meetings, poster signs, parades and singing outside the building help for the moment. But the feelings left behind; mom may not understand and won’t remember. Who needs the connection more?
Some feel they ‘stole’ a glance if mom lived on the outer perimeter and could get to the window. One couple timed a ‘sighting and a wave’ at the front entrance. Another family member recently moved to memory care, she asks the constant question, “I don’t understand, why don’t you come to see me anymore?” Covid 19 does not compute in memory care. Nothing replaces touch.
For more thoughts on ways to keep in touch at senior communities during Covid 19, click ‘Alzheimer’s Updates’