As time goes by, we lose count of how many days it has been since the quarantine. Every day feels somewhat the same and we struggle in recalling events from a few days ago. What if your days were further restricted? Imagine being unable to visit and interact with friends residing in the same care community. Think about what it would be like to not be able to go outside, go for a drive, or have a change in scenery. Add to that, the prohibition of visitors from the outside and not being able to touch or hug the most important person in your life.
We can probably agree that this would be devastating for anyone. However, it is what is occurring in congregant living communities in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina. In these past 83 days we have heard stories from individuals about their personal plights with the current restrictions. Here are some of their stories:
- Sara, a resident of a local long term care facility called saying that the community where she had been living for the past 2 years was opening up more space for individuals with COVID-19. She was handed a piece of paper with the names of three facilities and told she would need to decide which one she wanted to go to within the next few days. She was to take only ‘some’ of her things and the rest would be stored until her return at an unknown date. The only information she received about the facilities was the location.
- Paul and his wife Eileen had lived together in a Continuing Care Retirement Community for the past 3 years. Paul resided in the skilled care area and Eileen was in independent living. Each day Eileen would walk to the dining room where she and Paul could visit and eat together. At the onset of the virus, Eileen was restricted to her room. After a month of not seeing one another, Paul tested positive for COVID 19 and died a week later. The official cause of death was COVID 19, but Eileen his wife of 73 years believes that he died of a broken heart.
- Ruby lived in an assisted living community for the past 4 years. Many of the other residents were her longtime friends who found great pleasure in spending time together and reminiscing. Fifty three days after the quarantine order, Ruby called her daughter and told her that if she couldn’t see her friends and family she didn’t want to live. She stopped eating and died 4 days later.
COVID 19 is taking lives both directly and as a result of the measures that have been put into place for those living in care communities. Older adults in our culture have been dismissed for generations and the pandemic is casting a spot light on issues that have long been ignored. We can and must do better to support people as they age in our society. Care Weavers will continue to advocate to improve the overall health and well being for older adults in our community.