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My mom is in lockdown in memory care and I can only call her. The lady at the facility in charge of doing the video chats told me over a month ago she would do Skype with me every week and we agreed on a daily time. I didn't get a call the day she was supposed to do it, so I called and the director said the lady that was in charge of doing the video chat was not at work that day. So, I waited for her to call me for video chat, and it never happened, even though she had been back at work.


I called the next week and asked the head nurse/co director to do a video chat, and she did the Skype with my mom. It was at 2pm, and my mom looked exhausted and didn't have her glasses on. Mom has only one eye, and the one she has left has poor vision without her glasses. So, I requested they get her glasses so she could see me.


So, I've just been able to talk with my mom on the phone for the last 6 weeks, and Skype with her once. I would like to see her more often on Skype, but the memory care still doesn't have their stuff together. I called last week to see if they are going to resume Skype with my mom, but the lady in charge of doing the Skype said yes they're still doing it, but now it's Zoom.


Well, she couldn't figure it out, so I still couldn't see my mom.


She said she would reschedule my video chat with mom for today. She never called. I called a few minutes after my scheduled time to talk with the lady doing Zoom. The director let her know I was trying to get a hold of her to do Zoom or Skype. Neither one called me back. So, an hour later I called back telling the director I never received a call. The director told me she would talk to her and call me back. Never received a call back from director either.


Are any of you having issues like this? You can only talk with your loved on the phone? My mom lives in an inside room that doesn't have a window to the outside only inward to the garden area in the facility.


At this point, I'm getting a little tired and starting to be concerned. Would you be, or is this common place to only be able to talk on the phone with your loved one and not see them?


Thank you for any input!

I know! Frustrating. What I did for my husband was get him an iPhone with a stand. There’s a feature you can use where it will automatically answer and be in speaker phone. You can then FaceTime and it’s like having a camera in the room and they don’t have to fix the phone it answer it I use iPhone but there might be other phones. I know it’s another expense but this could go in fir awhile and at least I can see my husband and he doesn’t have to physically answer the phone.
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Reply to carolsmith1
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Make a friend in the admin office, Activities director or one of the the floor aids and don't limit yourself to visual contact. Write a letter or send a card; address it to your contact and ask them to read it to her. This will let your mother know you are thinking of her even if you are not able to video-conference. If your mother is able to see the words, she can touch and re-read your letter. Something to hold might be more endearing than a Skype or Zoom call.
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Reply to Bumberella
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I know they have their hands full, trying to manage everyone's family. I have called our facility several times about things my mother would tell me. I was partially just trying to figure out what was true and what was not. But, I was also concerned that she was unhappy. The manager always talked to me very thoroughly and explained their changed policies. She would also pull up my mothers file to determine if anyone had documented a problem. I always came away more comfortable. I would be concerned with the communication that you have had and I would take it up a notch.
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Reply to ct1128
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Wow this sounds terrible. I’m in a similar situation. It took them 2 weeks to set up a FaceTime call and said they would call me back. It has been 2 more weeks. I will call tomorrow and find out when they can do another call. My mom has forgotten that she can ask them to call me and I hate to bother staff I know they are terribly busy. I think this is an ongoing problem for everyone. I feel like the spouses need the FaceTime and phone calls more than I do. But do feel my mother may wonder where I am on some level.
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Reply to Nancynurse
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Phone calls and looking at her through the window on the outside looking in.
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Reply to Manson
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Good afternoon, Roseformom (lovely user name!)

As someone else mentioned, we are all learning how to do this on the fly. Some facilities seem to be doing this better than others. In looking back, I wonder if my mother’s nursing home had some information about what was in store earlier than most. Back in November, they started making every employee who had not had a flu shot wear a mask to work. In January, they started to prohibit visitation after 5:00 p.m. This is because all visitors prior to this time were screened for fevers and asked about symptoms of illness and travel abroad. No visitors were allowed after 5:00 when the people manning this station went home. We just thought they were being extra cautious about the flu.

At the end of February, they shut down the nursing home to outside visitors and vendors. Since then, they have set up a 2-3 times a week Facetime call through the activities employees. We also get a daily update from the director. Fortunately, the facility has only one story, so we are able to visit my mother through her window. We call the front desk when we arrive, and someone goes to the room to raise the blinds and position my mother near the window. At this time, we ask them to check her oxygen, change the channel on her TV (making sure she’s not watching covid news), and ask them how she’s doing. The visits aren’t optimal, but at least we can see her and her room.

The facility moved my mother several times while setting up an isolation wing for covid infected residents. This caused a lot of harm to her mental health (bipolar in addition to dementia) which we have spent a month trying to figure out. No UTI, and they are presently doing a blood analysis to check her medication levels. It may be a combination of the moving around, different nurses, and stress from not seeing her daily visitors. She has been doing better lately.

This facility amped up their activities for the residents - they just changed the way they did them. They still do Bingo, but the residents sit outside their room and they call numbers down each hall. They let them eat in the dining room but no more than ten at a time and distanced from each other. I heard they did a group art project this way.

i just looked at our state’s covid status. We have had 303 deaths so far - one third in LTC facilities. The covid wing at my mother’s nursing home is empty, which I hope and pray stays that way. Most of the cases and deaths in these facilities seem to come from only a few counties. Many counties have had zero cases.

It is easy to say that maybe these facilities didn’t take proper precautions, but there is so much unknown about the transmission of this virus and when it even began. I just read an article in which epidemiologists from around the world are studying why certain countries or areas with similar population density, climate, and demographics seem to be hit harder than others and even they can’t figure it out. I pray A LOT!
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Reply to Treeartist
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My mom is in skilled nursing and has Parkinson's and Dementia. The technology I have installed costs about $100 per month, plus about a $400 investment in equipment. I realize that's not within everyone's budget, but if you can afford it, it makes a huge difference.

First, I got her a phone that has internet connection - just like you would get for your house. This service is $90 per month from the local phone / internet provider. This service gives us Wi-Fi, and I don't have to worry about the facility complaining that I'm using too much of theirs. She can't talk on the phone much anymore, but I had to get the phone line in order to get the Wi-Fi.

Next, I bought a Nest indoor camera for $200. This thing is a GOD SEND! Some nursing homes don't like them, but most states are passing laws that make it illegal to forbid the cameras. I pay $10 per month to store 10 days of footage. This allows me to look backwards to see how she did during the day.

Third, I bought a ViewClix, also about $200. It has no monthly fee. https://viewclix.com/

The ViewClix allows me (and a few close relatives) to call her and video chat with her. We have to initiate the calls. She cannot. When it's not a video chat screen, it has rotating images which I can change from afar.

This setup is definitely for someone who has dementia. It's way too invasive for someone who still wants some privacy.

I find it incredibly comforting to see my mom on the camera. Incredibly! There's no substitute. People cannot really describe how she's doing, even when they are telling me every detail. The camera is everything.

The facility (initially) thought I wanted the camera to catch their employees acting badly (and sue them). Of course, if someone were being abusive, it would catch that, but I have seen nothing but consistently kind and patient behavior from the staff members. And, you can tell that they forget about the camera, so I don't think it's just because it's there. (Some are more patient than others, but no one is abusive!)

Now - I live 3000 miles from my mother and had installed all of this way before the coronavirus and shut-down, so I don't know how you'd get the equipment in there now.

FYI, if I owned a nursing home or assisted living facility, I would offer some version of ViewClix for every room!
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Reply to mgogoing
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Alicew234 May 4, 2020
Thank you so much. I was in the market for a digital frame. This is even better!
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My mom has a cell phone she really can’t use but the aids face time me. Also I make a couple schedules FaceTime calls A week with the activity director. But she misses me and doesn’t understand why I can’t come there. I’m hoping since she had the virus and now tests negative they will allow me to see our if it’s outside. But the problem is they don’t know enough about this virus. Can she get it again. Can she still spread it. No one knows.
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Reply to Val622
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My 95 year ago of mother’s AL facility has window visits and Skype available and they’re doing a good job. She doesn’t hear or see well so she’s limited with these mediums. She does have a phone for hearing impaired that has a print out screen and this works somewhat better. I call her and she goes to the patio door where we stand next to each other with the glass between us. I use a pad and a marker to communicate with her.
Here in New York State residents are confined to their rooms all day as no more than 10 people can be in the same space and they must be 6 feet apart. Therefore, Residents have all of their meals in their rooms and there are no activities. This is the hardest part because there is absolutely no interaction. The residents are technically in a cocoon with only essential personnel coming and going, and I understand the “no visitors” rule but residents should have more flexibility within the facility. Gov. Cuomo, this ruling is doing more harm than good!
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Reply to Susanonlyone
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In my mom’s NH the marketing director handles video calls, still a challenge. Mom can't see or hear or think well, so she didn’t understand a video call and could not see or hear me. Very disappointing. So I figured if Mom had her own phone, we might not have to wait for turn with a tablet or smartphone, and Mom might remember how a regular phone works. So I got Mom a TracFone from the company’s website: a refurb flip phone for $5 and a call plan that’s $20 for 60 minutes over 90 days; you buy more service when time or minutes gets low. No commitment, and throw it out when you decide to deactivate.

The similarity to an old-fashioned phone was great for Mom, and we had a super call! The staffer started the call and made sure Mom knew who was calling, then stood outside the room until I needed her to end the call and turn off the phone . She and I worked out the details by email, then we texted just before the call. (I also showed some team spirit by limiting our call to 10 minutes.

I’m hoping we can train Mom to end a call. Then the staffer could just start the call, then come back at her convenience to power off and store the phone. Medical staff are way too stretched to help, but other staff might. Also, be sure you connect to wifi, if available. And if you’re new to video calls, practice ahead of time with a friend, using the same app as the NH: Skype, Zoom, or Google Duo are common. (FaceTime is only for Apple devices.)

One more thing I keep reminding myself: Staff and family are all figuring this out on the fly. It’s stressful for us all. But the staff are going in every day, risking their health and their families’ health to care for our LOs. Let’s do what we can to ease their stress, not add to it if possible, so they can do the hard stuff without burning out. Being nice to them goes a long way. Deep breaths! :-)
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Reply to pamelac
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I have had the same experience. Over 6 weeks without seeing her face. 4 phone calls--during one she didn't know who I was. Today is her 80th birthday, so I sent a rather stern email to the director. I had bought her a Samsung Tablet so they could use Skype, but I think the director doesn't think he can trust his staff with is, and is too busy. So Friday and yesterday I got contacted by 2 staff on their own phones, and right away a WhatsApp video call. I am to deliver a large cake, balloon,card gift, and I think they will include me in the party with a video call. So try to get in touch with individual staff.
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Reply to Lewis22
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These responses are so heartbreaking to read.

They’re killing our elderly another way, by isolating them.

My Dad’s home prohibits window visits. I Skype with him now, he doesn’t understand the Skype technology.

I pray to our Lord Jesus Christ daily to help us through this crisis that doesn’t make sense.

I ask we all pray to Jesus.

God Bless.
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Reply to Concerned7
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The device my mom and I use is a Grandpad from Consumer Cellular. She has dementia but only has to touch one large circle button when I video chat with her. It also has music, weather, games and many other functions. It is very simple to use and you control who can call her, no scam calls. This was the best solution I could find at an affordable price.
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Reply to Animalpal
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I'm in Maryland, and for two months I haven't seen my mom, except for one time on face time (she can't use a cell phone). Talking on the phone is unbearable for me, though I do it twice a day, because she is so confused. Before the quarantine, I had the misfortune of getting a cold and made sure I didn't go near her till I thought it was safe. That time never came, and in the meantime I was told two weeks ago my mom has less than two months to live. With the end of the quarantine in Maryland nowhere in sight, I have accepted I might never see my mother's face again. I know I'm not alone; I know at least two people who have lost parents during this time, and without ever having the chance to see them, hold their hands, and be a comfort to them. I promised my mother she would never die alone, and I will break that promise.
I say all this just to let everyone know that I understand how tough this is for us, and for the people we love. We are on this site because we are caretakers, and at this time with little we can do, there is a feeling of helplessness.
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Reply to schrederkim
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My mother cannot talk and cannot understand anything over the phone. I send a card every day and "talk" to her. I printed pictures of the family. I send pictures and tell her about the memories of what we were doing. Her caregivers tell me that she smiles and seems to enjoy them. A couple of the caregivers gave me their personal cell numbers in case I have a hard time getting through. I think it would really confuse her if I was outside the window and did not come inside. Also, contact the activity director. Mother's activity director has been wonderful. She meets me on Saturday mornings so I can drop off goodies. She is great about keeping me posted
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Reply to Granna2020
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Does the facility have an outside window in a common area? Maybe you can arrange for "window visits" - you see each other through a closed window and talk on a phone.
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Reply to Taarna
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I usually call mom on a schedule so she knows when to expect me. Sometimes the caregivers setup Skype calls, which is nice to see mom, but it's quite a production for me and for the caregivers. It also depends on how good the internet is.

Are any of you experiencing issues with internet at your facilities?
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pamelac May 3, 2020
My mom's NH has lousy phone/internet reception -- unless you connect to their WiFi. It's free and it makes calls as clear as day! If there's no wifi, I'd favor voice calls because they don't use nearly as much bandwidth as video.

By the way, I never would have known about the wifi if I hadn't asked!
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I got my brother an Alexa Echo Show for Christmas. It is a God sent item. I can video chat with him all the time. My brother gets a big kick out of it. The aids come in and ask her to play his favorite music and shut off in an hour or so...They can play games also. I also send him letters with a picture of a family member.

My issue is when this pandemic is lifted how will we know the nursing homes are clean of the virus? My brother tested positive, but is asthmatic for the past 3 weeks. Lucky for him he's in a private room, but that doesn't keep residents from wandering into his room...So, how are others going to address going back into the home and visit?
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Reply to montanacmm
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I'm going to add another suggestion that may work for some people in this predicament: you can always send an old-fashioned, "snail mail" letter (in VERY LARGE print, if necessary) reminding your LO that you are thinking about and still love him/her. Then your LO can read it as many times as necessary and desired. I did this twice for my mother. Unfortunately, we lost her a few weeks ago--I found my first letter had been received and opened, but the second was sent the day before her death and I didn't find it in her room after we received "the call". On each envelope I wrote "PLEASE OPEN FOR RECIPIENT" as my mother wouldn't be able to do this herself. Fortunately, with the help of the staff, we were able to see and talk with her via smart phone the afternoon of the day on which she died that evening (9 April).

Sometimes, the "old fashioned" way is still a good idea, and a way to which the oldest generation was accustomed when communicating.
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Reply to jacobsonbob
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We are very blessed to be able to see mom on nice days because she sits outside and we can be in the car and talk to her. I also send treats frequently. They hold everything 3 days so I try to time deliveries. She also loves to read so I send books from Amazon. I look forward to the day I can hug her but until then we are trusting our Lord to provide all we need. And He is!
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Reply to Marcia64
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I can only talk with Mom on her cellphone. She is blind and has peripheral neuropathy, and can't see or feel the keypad on the phone, so I have to initiate the call. That generally works out pretty well.

My problem is being able to get up with someone - ANYone - at the facility. No one answers the phone, and the phone tree is set up so that you have to actually know the extension of the person you're trying to get up with. There is no directory, and no way to leave a message or even "dial an operator" for assistance. I requested a facility directory (in writing, no less) on April 23 and was assured that they would email one to me. Still haven't received it. I have taken to writing down my questions and concerns about Mom's care and stapling it to the bag of whatnots I bring to her every so often, but I never get a response.

I'm especially frustrated now, because my last call to Mom yesterday was unnerving - she sounded very confused, and was talking to me like I was someone else. Mind you, Mom had absolutely no cognition issues when she went to the nursing home two months ago.

She does have a history of goofy vivid dreams, however, so I figured that perhaps she'd recently awakened from a nap and was still in LaLa Land, but with the lack of communication with the staff, I have no way of finding out what's going on with her. They used to call me once or twice a week with updates on her condition, but even that's fallen by the wayside.

I'm going to drive down to the facility today and ask to speak to the duty RN. I know it's Sunday, and they no doubt have their hands full, but I'm not taking "no" for an answer, and I'll sit in the parking lot until doomsday if I have to.

COVID or not, there should be a way for me to at least leave a phone message. I've always been told, "If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to call." A fat lot of good that does me now. But I'm sure that if they didn't get their payment on the first of the month, they'd find a way to call ME.

End of rant. I know I sound petty and childish, but everyone has her breaking point, and I think I've just reached mine.
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Reply to PeeWee57
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I haven’t talked to my dad since I last saw him the first week of March. He doesn’t have a phone, which was by design and is not good if he does talk on the nurses's phone. He can’t carry on conversations anymore. So I don’t think he’d do well with a video call either. They might offer video calls at my dad's LTC but they are so busy and stressed that I wouldn’t dream of asking them to. I have seen photos of him and we get weekly updates. It is hard not to lay actual eyes on him and he’s not where I can see him through his window. They just wrote that they’re going to roll a resident out to the sidewalk and we can pull up our cars so they can see us. It will be hard and will probably make me cry so I’m in a way not looking forward to those feelings. I’m the only one out of four daughters who lives here, so none of my other sisters will be here.
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Reply to Harpcat
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Unfortunately we a are having the same type of issues at the Assisted living my MIL lives in and it is frustrating and heartbreaking! She broke her leg in March' had surgery and we couldn't see her and could not get anyone there to FaceTime with us. It has affected her mental health and exacerbated her dementia! We are having to pay for an aid 24 hrs a day because she can't be alone as her cast is non weight bearing and with her state of mind she doesn't realize she can't walk on it and already fell once, hit her head and had to have staples in it in which we were not told about either! Frustratingly, sad and scary times we are are living through and I pray this virus goes away sooner than later!
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pamelac May 3, 2020
Whitnik, my sympathies! If you're paying for an aide 24 hrs a day, I would think that aide should be able to help you do a call. I'm replying separate on this, but will describe my experience in a comment on Roseformom's original post. A lot of medical staff haven't used video calls much before this lockdown, so maybe you could offer to go through it with some one person (like that dedicated aide you pay for).
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That is unacceptable patient care. Period. I would get my lawyer involved maybe then these so called professionals will actually do their jobs.
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Reply to Bittersweet5
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This seems to be a common theme in these facilities nowadays. I got so fed up one evening that I voiced concerns about adequate staffing because no one would answer the phone for a period of hours. Is it possible for you to purchase or borrow a tablet for her room? Then you can request that they set it up for her. There are a few different mounting devices. In my experience, staff are more agreeable to setting up the video chat in a fashion that allows them to leave and go about their duties. You can even leave a conversation going continuously and check-in periodically granted no privacy issues (roommate) or facility rules are being violated. It starts to get scary when staff blatantly disregard requests to speak to a loved one. I know the feeling all to well.
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Reply to janegirl82
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This has been happening with communications between my LO and me also, but since there have been so many additional responsibilities on the caregivers in recent weeks, I always feel comfortable cutting them a little slack.

Unfortunately, I then wind up putting a huge bundle of anxiety on myself because of the lack of contact.

No good solution yet in my world, and until it’s safe for me, none on the horizon either. I’ve always been able to “skin my own skunks”, and not being able to get to LO and do what I’d been doing previously has put a huge crimp in our ongoing lives. I was gratified that she knew who I was the last time I got through, last Wednesday, but the I had a FaceTime appt. for Friday, and the call was never made to me.

If I were sure that I’d get our call when scheduled, I’d relax a little I think, but I can wind up going some 5 or 6 days in a row with no contact at all.
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Reply to AnnReid
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I know exactly how you feel. My mom is also in memory care. They have had 18 employees and 24 residents with the virus so they are working on a skeleton crew. They stopped Skype about a month ago. Skype only confused my mom anyway and she wouldn’t sit still. My mom has trouble using the phone. She’ll call me but not use the receiver. I have to call the facility and hope they answer to go give my mom the phone. My mom has lost more than 10 lbs. and has had 9 falls. Even though she’s in memory care she had a full time private aide in the morning and I was there every day from noon till she went to sleep. I know how overworked the staff is with full staff cause I was there every day. It’s killing me not being able to be there and at least see her. Her room is the same situation. Her window overlooks a locked courtyard. I know if she could at least see me her anxiety would be less. They have had to put her on Lorazepam because her anxiety is so bad. If they would just unlock a gate I could get to her window and at least see her. My mom is confined to her room. Being confined to my home is bad enough. I couldn’t imagine being confined to one room with nothing to do. It’s heartbreaking that our loved ones have to spend this time in their lives alone. I think with proper coverage there is someway we can spend time with them.
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ArtistDaughter May 3, 2020
I agree that the window visit from the courtyard would really help. Could you continue to ask for that? Or do the residents get to go out there sometimes? In that case they can't allow you there. So sad.
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My 85 year old mother has complex dementia and is living in a nursing home. I’ve been able to FaceTime with my Mom. You have to call ahead and book a day and time as it’s very popular.

My FaceTime visits are never very long and as much as I am glad I get to see and talk to my Mom, my Mom doesn’t like it - she says it’s not real. Unfortunately because of her dementia, she doesn’t understand why I’m not visiting her. The staff tell her every day it’s because of the virus but she doesn’t understand.
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Reply to M1k2s3
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I have only spoken to my mother over the phone for at least 6 weeks now, since the no visitor order was put forth by the State. Mom lives in a Memory Care ALF also. They do Google Duo video chats once a week, however, so we do have that. If I were you, I'd be calling the facility EVERY SINGLE DAY to ask for a video chat to be scheduled once a week. It's their job to get this video chat set up properly for the residents and their families, period. Not getting a call back over and over again is NOT okay. Call the Executive Director personally, or whoever it is that's in charge of the entire facility. Let your displeasure be known without being rude, of course..........but be firm.

That said, it IS commonplace to not see loved ones for extended periods of time with lockdowns such as this. This COVID19 situation is unprecedented, however, and the longest of any I've encountered. And likely to go on for many more months before visitors are allowed back in. Or until a vaccine is developed and available for everyone. The non residential care home settings have been hit the hardest, so they're the least likely to lift restrictions, you know? That's why I think you need to be persistent with your mom's place to let them know you MUST do a weekly video chat with her, period.

My mother has been in such a foul mood for weeks now, I can't even tell you. She doesn't really even want to speak with me! She won't answer the phone when I call, or, she'll be in such a rancid mood that she'll say she doesn't want to talk. She's obviously not coping well at ALL with the few new restrictions that they've put on her. Such as wearing a mask when she leaves her room. They're still doing one-on-one activities, still serving 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, still doing most of what they were doing pre COVID19, including allowing the residents full use of the beautiful garden outside. So I'm not sure why my mother is THIS upset and furious. I do know that I haven't been able to send her things or bring her food, which is irritating her........so that may be most of it.

It's sad, all of it. I've been dealing with my parents and their health and living arrangements since 2011 (as an only child); Dad passed in 2015 and it's been one thing after another with my mother since her sounding board and scratching post is no longer there. And now that I can no longer 'do' for her, she doesn't even want to speak to me 90% of the time.

We do our best, right? Come what may. Wishing you the best of luck getting your message across to the powers that be at your mother's place.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Roseformom Apr 30, 2020
Thank you Lea! You are blessed they do Google Duo for you and your mom every week. Our situations are similar in that I'm like an only child. My brother lives in another state and only comes out once a year.

I think they got the message when I called them yesterday. The lady in charge of doing video chats called me this afternoon and I was able to do Zoom with my mom. My mom didn't have her glasses on again, but this happens quite a bit there. I think they have been overwhelmed for a long time, even before the quarantine. They don't hire enough staff and the old staff left when new management came in at the end of last year. I'm looking into a new place for my mom with a better ratio of caregivers. Her place she's in went from 1 caregiver for every 6 residents to 1 for every 12 or more at certain times of the day after new management.

The place that I'm looking into has 1 caregiver for every 3 residents and it's in a large home with a capacity of 15. She's first on the waiting list, so when this quarantine is lifted the director of the home is going to see my mom and will let me know if she qualifies to live there.

Wishing you the best with your family as well. Thank you for your advice and sharing your experiences. I appreciate it.
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My mom is also in memory care on lockdown. They are allowing me to FaceTime once a week with mom. The administrator or one of the assistants takes mom to her room and starts the FaceTime and then they leave and let us have some privacy. Mom does pretty good in FaceTime and I can talk to her about half an hour. I think one week they did forget to call me and I had to call them back and get someone to FaceTime her.

They also send photos. They were better at that in the beginning then now. I have asked the administrator a few times to send me a photo of mom.

I would be worried if I couldn't at least see mom over FaceTime..my mom can still communicate... but even if she couldn't.. I would want to see her. You can kind of see if they look healthy and cared for.. so to answer your question I would be concerned if they weren't allowing me to see her in real time.
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Roseformom Apr 29, 2020
You're so lucky Katie! It sounds like your mom's place has things together! I would be happy with seeing my mom once a week. I agree with you that you can see if mom looks healthy and cared for. This would make me feel better about the situation. Thank you so much for your response!
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