Families are feeling lost and confused as they sit on the outside of nursing homes where their loved one resides. In early March, they were told that due to the pandemic they were not going to be allowed to come into the nursing facility and would not be able to see their family member.
At first, a 14-day lockdown. Four months have now passed and family is still not welcome in. Yes, they can have scheduled window visits or sit outside in the hot sun on the other side of a fence with a mask on, but that is not having access to the loved one that they worry about.
For months, these residents have been in their rooms. No group activities and no having meals in their lunchroom together. The families realize the nursing facility is under strict guidelines from the state health departments and the CDC, but that does not take away the concerns of loneliness, depression, fear and confusion that these residents must be feeling.
This elderly population is basically in jail. Finally, after months, some are able to see their families in person but no hugs, no kisses, no love allowed.
Many have died during this time, not of the virus, but I believe of loneliness and broken hearts. These people in the last years or days of their lives are missing out on the time with the family that loves them.
They are dying alone or family is being allowed in at their last moments when they may not even know they are there. Many families are unable to care for their loved ones or are elderly themselves, which causes frustration and no hope for the families. They are at the mercy of the state and the health departments.
Unfortunately, the ombudsmen, who are the advocates for the elderly, were not allowed to weigh in on the decisions for these facilities. When admitted, the residents and families had no idea their time together would be gone and the rules that were in place to ensure visitation are now set aside.
We have to find a way to open these doors.
I am hoping that many in Iowa — where my mother resides — and in other states will come together for a change that is greatly needed.
For the rights of residents and their families.
For their Constitutional right to freedom and visitation in their last home.