12. Covid-19, Isolation, & the New Normal in Memory Care Facilities

32 minutes

In Episode 12 of Alz In The Fam, the four Fair siblings discuss COVID-19 and its ongoing effects on Memory Care Facilities. Due to COVID-19, many of the residents of these facilities are facing severe and damaging isolation, such as their mom.

To protect the health of the residents, Memory Care Facilities, like their mom’s, are taking extra precautions to shield residents and staff from sickness. These precautions, however, have a negative effect on the residents.

As the Fair siblings state, their mom was moved into a senior living community to avoid the isolation that many seniors face when living alone. The pandemic, however, has left their mother isolated, confused and uncomfortable.

Since March, the Fair family have only been able to see their mom in person once. All other communication is done over Facetime, which puts a strain on the communication they have with their mom.

When their Mom’s Memory Care facility did open again, after all staff and residents had two consecutive negative tests, it only opened for outdoor visits in the extremely hot and humid July weather. Two days later, a staff member tested positive and the facility shut down again. Allan has been unable to see his Mom in person for more than six months. 

The Fair siblings are not allowed to take their mom out for family gatherings or for excursions to the hair or nail salon, or for a walk. These outings were a way for the siblings to take care of their Mom and give her a chance to socialize or enjoy a change of scenery.

It is devastating to the Fair family that they cannot hug their Mom. And because they cannot visit her inside or take her for outings, the siblings are constantly worried about how well her hygiene is being monitored. They also worry if their Mom recognizes herself with her now gray hair.

So many residents passed away during the COVID-19 shutdown that the Fair sibling’s Mom had to be moved to a new room and floor in her facility. Her floor lost more than half of its residents to COVID-19 or complications of other diseases exacerbated by COVID. The siblings are worried about their Mom adjusting to a new room and bed especially with the challenge of advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. This transition has been difficult on their mother, and the siblings can see how upset it has made her.

Their mom is still unable to go for outdoor walks due to COVID-19, causing her to gain weight, and has suffered from the extreme isolation required to bring the COVID-19 outbreak under control.

The siblings discuss how difficult it is to have their Mom at a senior facility with all the measures in place to preserve and protect their Mom’s physical health. They debate how on the one hand this helps to prolong her life and the lives of other residents and staff, but on the other hand it is prolonging a now sad and lonely time for their Mom. For similar reasons, the siblings also debate signing off on the flu shot for their mother given their Mom’s history of refusing the shot. 

Poli and Allan also discuss how Coronavirus patients with dementia in the U.S. who are hospitalized, are not allowed to have a caregiver go with them. When they were guests on “The D Word” radio show Allan and Poli learned that the UK has a rule that requires hospitals to allow a caregiver to join dementia patients in the hospital.

The Fair siblings hope that Memory Care Facilities can find a balance that will help families and their loved ones reconnect, while still maintaining the safety of all parties involved. They hope, more than anything, that they can give their mom a hug soon.

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