Weight loss, increased frailty, cognitive decline, sadness from isolation

Jun 18th, 2020

An email was sent out by the facility, warning we may find our loved ones with “weight loss, increased frailty, cognitive decline, sadness from isolation.”

I would like to thank you for advocating for a very vulnerable population, one of whom I feel has been completely overlooked during this pandemic.

I will start by telling you a bit about my ‘Nanny’ Thelma Hartman is 91 years old and continues to have her zest for life despite now living in a nursing home. She traveled to England and throughout Europe up until 5 years ago when we noticed her legs were just not able to keep up with her busy lifestyle, then her mind started to go to places we never saw it go before. It wasn’t long before she would be diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia.

Although thanks to medications she is not as bad as before, she was still unable to look after herself safely at home anymore.  She is technically deemed incompetent but is still very much able to carry on conversations and keep up with local affairs. During the start of the pandemic through a series of rather humorous events she was able to be at her home for a week while her daughter was visiting from England. She then had to go into self-isolation for a week following her little getaway. By the end of the week she was very excited to go back to her “new home”. That was the last time any us saw her physically.

We have had a couple of facetime chats with her. The first time she was in great spirits. Laughed about her new normal, and made the best of the situation knowing her family were all safe and healthy. The second showed a very aged, lonely, not so optimistic Nanny. It honestly still makes me upset even thinking about it.

I know we are lucky. She is still alive so I pray my children will once again at some point get to visit their Great Nanny that they so desperately miss. I also pray that she will remember who they are the next time we meet.

These are hopes that so many families are denied now. Instead I am sure they have so many questions. Questions that will never be able to be answered. So many of the horrific stories and tragedies will never be told, either because of death or the residents inability to communicate. I am horrified that an email was sent out by the facility, warning we may find our loved ones with “weight loss, increased frailty, cognitive decline, sadness from isolation.”

My Father’s automatic response was, ‘If my Mother has lost a lot of weight and is in a physical decline why would I not be notified before?” One of many, many unanswered questions.

Covid-19 never actually hit the nursing home she lives in. But it is run by an organization that is the epi-centre of Covid19 in Nova Scotia, and as a former care aid in long term care homes and hospitals, I think this was mostly because of sheer luck and not due to strong policy and procedures put into place for PPE’S and infection control.

Nobody from a loved ones family is allowed to go in, even with PPE, in fear we may bring in COVID-19 but they are hiring people with little if any knowledge of infection control and allowing them to work. Even now only 2 people are allowed to visit their loved ones outside for 30 minutes. Only 4 patients are allowed a visit per day. As of now my parents have still not been given a date to visit.

We received a call from a volunteer telling them that my grandmother is still alive. They say she is fine but since they don’t have any affiliation with the building I find it hard to be sure they even know who she is. Let alone any knowledge of her actual condition. Basically everything during this pandemic articulates everything that has always been wrong with our nursing homes .As time goes on and things that really are not essential are opening up for our “mental health” but continuing to keep these most vulnerable members of our society locked up like dogs infringes on their rights.

Thank you for being such strong advocates for this distressing situation.

Nicole N.