A Family’s Story of Coronavirus Isolation with Mom in an ALF: “Please Just Come Up Here and Let Me Hold You!”

by Linda Chamberlain

Wow! My mother-in-law (MIL) was so happy to see her son today (and me too). Her immediate response was “Please Just Come Up Here and Let Me Hold You!” Her entire life she has been a hugger.

Explaining Coronavirus Isolation and Why We Can’t Come into the ALF

We try to explain why we cannot come up to her apartment and visit (she lives on the 2nd floor). We tell her there is a bad virus, like the flu, going around that kills people and that everything is closed to save lives. She then wants to know how come people can come to work where she lives, and we cannot come up and visit with her. It is a difficult explanation to come up with for someone who has mid-stage dementia.

Conversational Challenges

We divert her attention by letting her know how all her great-grandchildren are doing. The conversation is good for a little while, then it is back to why we will not come up to visit with her. She then gets started on how much she hates this place because they will not even let you out of your room. She cannot leave her room, she cannot go to the restaurant, and she hates the food they bring to her room. “It is like a prison,” she says.

It is difficult to find a similar time in history she may remember and be able to relate to today’s circumstances. She was born in 1931. We talked a little bit about the depression and World War II as she has often talked about her parents being very poor and that it was difficult for her Dad to find a job. We tell her there are many people who cannot go to work, and that most companies have closed. She acknowledges the information with surprise, however, she immediately returns to why did we stick her in this place and now never come to visit. I can only imagine how many times a day the caregiver must hear her say this.

The Invaluable Support of Caregivers During Coronavirus Isolation at the ALF

We are grateful she has a caregiver to be with her throughout this pandemic. The caregivers help her keep a positive attitude. They provide her with one-on-one attention, and make sure she is well cared for while we cannot visit. The anxiety this relieves for both my husband and me is invaluable.

Missing Loved Ones in the ALF or Nursing Home and Creative Connections During Coronavirus Isolation

We desperately miss spending time with her, having her over to our home to visit, taking her out to eat, and taking her for drives around the area. We are blessed she is still active, recognizes us, and extremely grateful her assisted living facility has not experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. The facility reports they may allow us to visit in person sometime after June 1st. A very long time from now.

I am so sad for folks lying in a nursing home bed with no family allowed to visit. It is difficult enough to not be able to get out of bed on your own, take a sip of water when you want, and to lie there waiting for help all day every day. Going forward, please help every facility you are acquainted with to gain access to technology and the training required to use it – so our loved ones can experience at least a virtual visit, with the feelings of hugs.

Once we are allowed back in to visit with my mother-in-law, we will set up an “Alexa Echo Show” and she will be able to see us when we call her. The difference that could be making for her now would be amazing. It would be a huge benefit for us, and we could see day by day how she is doing.

Thank you for following our saga, we appreciate it. We have an amazing team of caregivers at EasyLiving, Inc. working every day taking care of many families’ loved ones. I greatly appreciate our caregivers’ commitment to our team and the individuals we serve. I always tell our caregivers: you must be called to be a caregiver and love those you work with every day – it is not a skill that everyone has. We are fortunate to have a great team of caregivers.

If you need support with concerns for loved ones in an ALF or at home alone during coronavirus isolation or help with resources any time, call us at 727-447-5845 or 813-333-5020. We offer ALF and care facility support, respite care, and help navigating care options and programs. In the current situation, we offer free phone or video consultations. We know this crisis brings added anxiety to caregiving. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

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