Watching these stories over the past few months have been some of the most heart-wrenching moments. Isolating the elderly from their families in the waning days of their lives is cruel and accelerates their decline. We don’t want to throw the doors open, but there is a way to allow families to be with their parents and grandparents while mitigating the risk.
Now, a grassroots movement of families is demanding compromise on nursing home lockdowns, arguing that social isolation for nursing home residents is nearly as deadly as the virus that sent their facilities into lockdown. The calls come amid uneasiness from eldercare advocates and as rapid Covid-19 tests are only beginning to reach nursing homes.
“Many of these facilities’ families haven’t been in there in months, and they can see their family members dwindling away, and they’re losing days they can never get back,” said Dave Bruns, a spokesperson for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) of Florida. Nevertheless, they face a “lose-lose” proposition.
“Just the isolation caused by the shutdown order is literally killing people,” he said. “If you don’t reopen them, that’s definitely going to kill some people, and if you do open them it’s definitely going to kill some people.”
Window visits and Facetime, caregivers argue, are insufficient and can be actively distressing to some patients. Further, they argue lockdowns have allowed asymptomatic staff members with Covid-19 into nursing homes, but allowed “no room for error” for family members.