Mom in Assisted Living,  we’re in area where meat packing plants are. Lots of testing finally and lots of positives. Dementia in lockdown has thrown Mom further into depression and confusion and at times she doesn’t even believe it. We did window visits at first but now nothing. They are not going to do site wide testing here? What’s your experience?

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First, I'm sharing this b/c I'm hoping it helps others create perspectives.
Second, I'm not attempting to criticize or "put anyone down", just to offer a different perspective.

When I become uncomfortable with the high risk and the changed state of literally the entire world that's subject to the pandemic, I remind myself how much worse it could be:

1. The English, Polish, French as well as the Americans and others who served in WWII faced a hell well beyond what we're facing. And not only were there tremendous casualties, those who became POWs suffered more than we're suffering just by having to stay home.

Can any of you imagine being occupied by a foreign country? Your rights pre-empted by thugs, your safety compromised? Air raids over your city?

2. Many who served returned home with shell shock, just as Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans returned home with PTSD (or PTSS as it's now called). That affected not only their mental but their physical health as well as their relationships. And it couldn't be cured by a vaccine.

And some returned without all of their limbs, or with other serious injuries. Granted the Coronavirus apparently can cause long term damage, the extent of which we have yet to discover, but thus far I haven't read of anyone losing a limb.

And many never returned at all.

3. We don't have foreign troops occupying our country.

4. We're not facing years of strife with foreign countries ruining our lives, as are the Syrians.

5. We were not literally evicted from our homes, or camps, as were the Kurds when American troops were irresponsibly withdrawn from assisting those who had assisted us.

6. We're not subject to food rationing by the government, and limited in how much we can buy of basic staples. We are affected by shortages, but that's not a government mandate, and it changes depending on production, shipping and other market conditions.

None of these scenarios are possible, you say? Whether they are or aren't, there are life situations far worse than what we're facing now. I'm glad, and feel very fortunate, that I don't have to deal with what my parents did during the Depression, or what the male members experienced when they served during WWII or Vietnam.
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The facilities are damned if they do and damned if they don't. We want them to allow visitors back in. But, if the virus breaks out there, as it likely will, then we will blame them for allowing visitors back in. We want our parents to have social interaction again but NOT get the virus. Which is an oxymoron when you think about it. We can test the residents and the employees until the cows come home, but unless there is a test done DAILY, the results are useless. And even if someone tests negative, with the upwards of 40% error rate, the results cannot be trusted. My mother's ALF is not even reopening the facility to the DOCTORS who were coming in to see and examine the residents; they are doing so via Zoom, which is pretty useless. When I spoke to the nurse yesterday, she said they weren't likely going to reopen any time soon to the doctors b/c they are the ones who carry contagion by visiting many sick patients.

Until and unless there is a vaccine available, or a medication to PREVENT getting COVID19 to begin with, I don't see a viable answer to this dilemma. We will all be screaming bloody murder at them one way or another.

A true catch-22 if ever there was one. On the AL side of mom's place, they've all been in their ROOMS for around 8 weeks now. They're served 3 meals a day in their rooms and are not allowed out. In the Memory Care bldg where my mother lives, they can't force them to stay in their rooms for obvious reasons; but they do make them wear masks when they come out, and they separate them when eating. So it's a bit better in MC..........they still do some activities on a one-on-one basis, but my mother complains they 'do nothing'. She's a lot better off where she is now than she would be back on the AL side, frankly.
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End of life is so sad. Either risk dying a (relatively) quick death from COVID or linger on and slowly die in depression and isolation.

I have 2 uncles who died very suddenly of heart attacks several years ago. One uncle (73) was repairing some furniture an hour before, the other (59) was helping the neighbor moving things a few minute before. They were active, busy living their lives until the minute the heart attacks came and took them.

I felt really sad for both of them having their lives cut short. But now that I have had experience with my mom having Alz and reading on Agingcare what other seniors are going through in their final years, I think my uncles were very lucky to have exited this world with almost no suffering.

We all have to die someday. And we all want to die in our sleep with no suffering, but how many of us actually get that wish? Either die suddenly, or die slowly in pain or suffering. There should be a better way.
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katiekay May 2020
I so agree with this. My Mom lives in a memory care and I haven't seen her in 2.5 months..and no end in site.

The thing that concerns me is if she does get infected she will be isolated in her room all alone until she either gets over it or passes. That part is what concerns me as to her being sick and alone or dying and alone.

For myself, I prefer to die earlier and suddenly as opposed to lingering on for years with a much lower quality of life.. as my parents have.
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We haven't been faced with a pandemic of this scale for more than 100 years. Many are suffering. Many are divided on the way to move forward. Many are afraid and suffering from lack of funds. We have been somewhat complacent in America, even those of us who are challenged; we have not had to face something like this since our parents (grandparents?) face the great depression, since our great grandparents faced the last pandemic. My own grandfather too shortcuts through the cemetery in Chicago when the train let him off after work, and once fell into the waiting graves to the extent he didn't try that in the dark again. We will get through. Not without suffering and not without loss. But we WILL get through, because our diversity, whatever party we belong to, is our strength, and our ability to raise our own voices is our strength. These are hard times. Hand in there. We WILL get through this. Keep a diary. You story is important to those kids in the future who never knew diversity could come, who will want to let their own progeny know it might come again. Do your best. Whatever you believe, practice patience and kindness; these are very hard times. My bro died in an Assisted Living half a state away from me. I could not have visited there or in the hospital. I could manage only by phone, hospice, all of it. It was very difficult. But go forward with as much open heart and love as you are able. THAT is truly the American way.
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Treeartist May 2020
Alvadeer, I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. You were a good sister to him.
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AT1234, I realize that my post below doesn't address your situation, and I do hope you understand that I was addressing the broader issue of the pandemic throughout the US and the world, and the issue of lockdown length.

I honestly was addressing other and eventually more posters, based in part on responses on similar threads.

I feel so badly for those who are in lockdown in facilities; it's so much more challenging when you have a loved one in that situation. If facilities had more staff and access to more space, the challenge might be lessened.

But I think the risk also arises from a population attitude toward nursing homes, and the attitude of those in power to allocate funds. For years there's been a need for more attention to the needs of the elderly. There's also a disparity in ethnicity, factors which enter the eventual care and/or survival of those who aren't in the population mainstream.

Dementia and lockdown can't be good partners. This is one area that needs attention, funding, and support, but it also needs advocates who know how to play the power game to get funds allocated.
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Bella7 May 2020
Like someone who has “power/big importance/politician. Until one of those people have a dear parent in a facility experiencing dementia along with lockdown or isolation, even in AL, etc they will never know what it’s truly like!! It makes me sick to see the millions of dollars being used for many things when these facilities need it’s so desperately too!
My mother is 95 1/2 years old and is sinking into a further depression. She said these last 3 days she wanted to die. What good is isolation for the elderly living alone? She sleeps most of the time. She has been in her house since this all started in March except when she went to the ER. She starting to feel hopeless and despair living in her house alone and not allowed to go out. Our Governor in New York signed Matildas law back in March. Nobody over 70 years old leave there house for any reason except medical emergency until at least may 28th. I told my mother I would take her out for a drive on Sunday and buy her an ice cream.
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golden23 May 2020
Nice, elaine. It's what you can do. Where I live, we (the elderly) are recommended to stay home but not required, I get out in the garden, and walk in the neighborhood, respecting 6' distancing.
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Despite opening things like restaurants, the advice is still for senior and people with underlying health problems to still keep out of circulation. I can't imagine that NH and AL are going to open much, if at all, and risk further exposure of these vulnerable people.
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No telling how much longer the lockdown will last. Here in GA we're slowly opening up but nursing homes will be able to continue lockdown as long as they feel necessary. Mom's nursing home went on lockdown even before our governor ordered it. It is a good facility, but the coronavirus has still swept through it. At first my mom was spared, one of 32 who tested negative. They moved her back to the area where the sick had been after doing a deep clean and yes, you guessed it! She has now come down with the virus. Why they couldn't leave her in that new room we don't understand! They are having a hard time keeping her oxygen up to 85-88%. We had a window visit 2 days ago and I am scheduling another one tomorrow. Because the entire state was under a shelter in place order, we are just now able to do those.

This virus is just awful and spreads so fast. Extreme caution has to be taken, no matter how hard it is on everyone.
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Some version of keeping the fragile elderly in a form of isolation will be necessary until there is a vaccine. And even then, when it will be available in sufficient quantity and how effective it will be, is another question. If you look at the history of facilities where there have been a lot of cases, having all these elderly people housed together is a recipe for disaster. Most places have people isolated in their individual rooms with staff coming in and out wearing masks. This is not going to end when the lockdown does.

I think that facilities will allow family to come in and visit at some point; possibly wearing masks. I don't see them allowing people to go out and have lunch in a restaurant anytime soon.

Of course no one knows but if you think about how this is going, states might be opening up but the rates of infection are also going up with those openings. It is not that the lockdown ends and we all go back to normal. There is no normal. You cannot take your mother out to restaurants or stores without putting her at risk.

I am not frail elderly but I am 67. We go out to stores and my husband still goes to work but we wear masks, wash hands and generally are pretty cautious. My FIL died on Monday and we went to Memory Care for the first time yesterday to clear out his belongings. We plan to continue being very cautious although going out to shop etc, for quite a long time. For assisted living facilities, they are going to have to be extra cautious as well.
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In Alberta where I live, the virus ran rampant through senior facilities in one city. I know it did in another province too. I believe half the deaths in Canada were seniors. Part of the problem was staff that worked at more than one facility and carried the infection back and forth. Now they know and changes are being made, higher degrees of sanitation, more testing and isolation and so on.

Lea is right, testing is only good for the day the person is tested.

The main means of transmission seems to be person to person close contact.

That is why the distancing, isolation, and masking requirements.

Care of many seniors in facilities means regular daily close contact with staff. Meals or other activities together make for close contact.

I don't think there are great solutions at present. The virus is not going away.

If you open up the facility to visitors and more contact, you greatly increase the risk of infection and more people will get ill and die.

If lock down is maintained, people in facilities, and those of us in our homes, suffer from the isolation.

Really that's the hard choices being faced until/unless a vaccine or effective treatment is developed.

The virus mutates so there is always a possibility that it mutates to something less problematic, but it may also mutate to something worse i.e. the outbreak in Northern China with a longer incubation period so greater risk of infection being passed on.

People, this is not going away quickly.
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