Alone: when you can’t visit Grandma

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a huge problem in nursing homes and retirement homes because of the corona virus measures. People cannot visit their loved ones, and when they do, sometimes they are separated by Plexiglas partitions. No hugs, no touching.

Those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are especially affected by these measures. They can’t understand what is going on. They even forget who their family members are.

And, they are dying. Alone.

Charles Caleb Colton said, “Sometimes a hug is worth a thousand words.” The meme I saw shows two Teddy bears hugging. How much more than a thousand words is a hug for someone who feels abandoned.

I read recently about a husband and wife who are only allowed to see each other something like once a week, and then, they have to be at a distance with a staff member sitting between them.

Something is terribly wrong.

People need their families. They need visits. Elderly people need caring and touching and love.

So do the rest of us, for that matter.

I understand that older people are more vulnerable to Covid19 than the young. They often have underlying health issues, and they’re physically weaker. It would be awful for them to get the virus.

But, it isn’t right for homes for the elderly to be closed off to visitors. It also isn’t right for people not to have any visitors in the hospital.

Social distancing—and I understand the logic behind it—isn’t normal, either.

Jesus physically touched lepers, blind, crippled, and the dumb. He reached out to them. He took the dead by the hand when He raised them. They felt His caring through His touch.

In the early church, people greeted each other with a holy kiss, just as we used to in our church in Spain. Hugs between brethren are normal. Pats on the back or touching an arm are good for us. They are encouraging, warm, and connecting (pardon the pun).

Please understand I am not advocating throwing out all health rules during a pandemic. But, there is a real problem—possibly even worse than the disease—when we can’t visit family, especially our elders.

I don’t know what solutions to advise either. Masks can be very confusing to a confused person. Probably a clear face shield would be better. Wash hands and surfaces. Make sure the staff is healthy. Do everything to keep our elderly people well. But, let them see their families. A huge part of geriatric health is mental health, feeling loved, and the warmth of family.

Someone suggested she would rather die and be with her spouse than to be separated and lonely.

Many people who had Covid and were in the hospital said the hardest part was the loneliness, going weeks without visitors. Several of my personal friends couldn’t visit their handicapped children for months. This is clearly not right.

I think that part of honoring our father and mother is visiting them in their old age.

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:32).

What do you think?

Any ideas on how to best handle this problem?

Have you or a loved one experienced this? Please feel free to share.

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