Despite the images and messaging on television with health care workers in masks dancing, and grandmas smiling through windows and on facetime the reality is very different. The restrictions that have been imposed on care facilities with dementia units are cruel and inhuman.
My 96- year old mother with severe dementia has been in lockdown since early March, the last time I was able to see her. Initially, my sister was able to have in person visits because of end of life policy. Her visitation privileges were suspended after my sister start asking questions about care practices in the facility. As my mother’s condition continued to deteriorate after 14 days, the in-person visits were re-instated. 2 days later she passed away (last Monday).
Dementia patients do not have the ability so communicate effectively so it is vital that physical contact with loved ones is available to them. What are we protecting them from during this lockdown?
At the facility we observed staff who were screened with a questionnaire, temperature check, and a mask. I am certain that they were free to go home after their shift, visit with their families and shop in the grocery store. They are in the facility and interacting with patients. Why were not these protocols available for the families of dementia patients? Are the family members somehow a greater risk than the staff? This makes absolutely no sense.
In speaking with other families that have been locked out there is a profound sense of desperation and anger in not being able to visit their loved ones. Many of these patients may pass away without having any contact with their families for months. It is heartbreaking. This is the side of the lockdown you don’t see on TV.
I have decided not to bring these concerns to politicians because I am tired of getting the templated replies from executive assistants. Politicians only seem to respond to the media while public health officials seem to be only concerned with their numbers.