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My state (NC) started allowing limited outdoor visitation on September 5. Mom's LTC didn't schedule any visits until September 17. I was given a slot on Sept. 18, which they canceled due to bad weather, and was rescheduled for Sept. 24. Just prior to the 24th, they reported a positive test result from an asymptomatic staff member, so I was re-rescheduled for Oct. 8. Then I got a call saying that they had miscalculated the waiting period, so the visit was moved to the 10th.


A few days later, they reported another positive case (again, a staff member and again asymptomatic) so my visit was re-re-rescheduled to Oct. 17. And yesterday, I got notification of yet another asymptomatic positive test from a staff member who was never in contact with the residents. I'm now waiting for the re-re-re-rescheduling call on that one.


Is anyone else out there experiencing a similar problem? I'm starting to lose hope. It seems awfully strange that the facility went without a single positive test until the visitation restrictions were lifted. And while it's good to know that none of the residents have tested positive, it's also strange that all of the staff cases have been asymptomatic. Intellectually, I realize that this can be a series of remarkable coincidences, but on the other hand, I'm emotionally fragile enough now to begin to wonder if they're getting false positives, or are just plain giving us the runaround.

The 'cure' is worse than the pandemic.
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Since I'm in California and the governor here is constantly moving the goalposts, I've been able to "see" my mother exactly once since March -- outside from eight feet away, gloved (why??), masked, and wearing goggles in 95° heat. It was a fiasco, because my mother is nearly blind and deaf as a post. She can't see anyone from that distance, and she couldn't understand me through a mask. I left in tears after five minutes because she closed her eyes which is her signal that she's just done.

I've gone back to window visits, because I can talk to her on the phone and don't have to wear a mask. It frustrates me to no end, though, as a caregiver is in there with her leaning close to tell her something so she can hear, patting her on the arm, and doing everything I should be able to do for her. They aren't living in bubble where they can't catch Covid anymore than I am, and the caregivers brought Covid in there in the first place. They had an outbreak, but it was over in six weeks.

That was in June and July, so why are they still locked down like Fort Knox? I should be able to see my mother!
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ClauChar Oct 12, 2020
They have to "keep the elderly population safe", so that the demonstrations can go on forever! I've just had it with all those excuses!
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I think the facilities went without 'cases' of COVID b/c they weren't TESTING. Now that they're testing residents and employees, of course they're going to see 'cases' which doesn't mean the person is 'sick', just that they tested positive which could easily be a FALSE positive. The more they test, the more 'cases' they find, that's what's happening here in my mother's ALF too. Nobody is 'sick', just testing positive, which to me means FALSE positives! Panic in the streets. More shut downs and more mass hysteria to deal with, which is getting ridiculous already.

My mother's ALF has been allowing window visits for months now; we go over every Sunday at 1 pm; she sits in the conference room at the window, the care giver calls ME on my cell phone, and we talk to her via the phone. She's literally 2 feet away from us, but the window separates us. They say they are going to start allowing indoor visits 'hopefully soon', but guess what? 2 more employees tested positive but are asymptomatic! More stalls, more delays, more nonsense. But I'm ok with it b/c we do get to do the window visits which in a way are better b/c my mother is mostly deaf. So sitting 6 feet away from her with both of us wearing masks is likely to produce a scream fest with lots of frustration to deal with, and her understanding NONE of the conversation. Sigh.

I vote for false positives, too much testing, and the runaround, all combined with the CYA principle for facilities. While I DO understand their predicament, these elders NEED HUMAN TOUCH from their loved ones again. Period.
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PeeWee57 Oct 9, 2020
Thanks for bringing up the testing aspect. NC recently ramped up the testing, so that may account for the sudden rash of positives, whether accurate or false. But that brings us back to rather a gray area: Before the increase in testing, how many of the staff were walking around with asymptomatic cases but did not transmit the virus to the residents due to following PPE protocol to the letter? We'll never know.

I'm with you on the futility of window visits. With a mostly blind and deaf mother myself, it's hard to communicate over the phone. Worse still, the facility's windows are old and the seals have deteriorated, which has led to them being permanently foggy between the glass, making it more difficult for me to see Mom while rendering my shadow or outline barely discernible to her. And the windows haven't been cleaned on the outside in who knows when, so I have to bring a rag to clean off accumulated soil to see the little bit that I can. I also have to bring a camp chair and balance it on the river rocks that they have arranged along the foundation of the building, which can get pretty dicey when the rocks decide to shift under my chair.

And what's going to happen when winter arrives?

Your last paragraph sums things up pretty well. Thanks for responding.
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Sis in nursing home. Outside visits were allowed a couple months ago-huge plastic screen that rattles like mad when the breeze blows, landscaper mowing noise, cars driving by, nearly impossible to hear sis and her soft voice now. they had some staff cases but did not shut down my sister area/visits. But last week had 2 new staff cases, another one this week= FOUR MORE WEEKS of misery for sis and myself. Sis is in her room by herself, she would not be able to turn on the TV or work the phone by herself. Recently sis has not been clean, her nails were nasty with gunk, I could see gunk stuck in her teeth. No one returns my calls about what is going on-been told sis is loosing weight and BP is going up-geee i wonder why people.
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wyohwyn Oct 12, 2020
I too had concerns about my LO's diminishing cleanliness which I witnessed during a window visit. LO used to be so scrupulous about hair, fingernails,etc. Those window visits were a complete failure-LO unable to focus on visit due to background noise. Thank goodness for our daily Facetime/Skype/Zoom calls ! My LO holds the nursing home's IPad close enough to see my face and "talking mouth". It's not the same as a hug but still some "closeness" is maintained. I had LO move the IPad 360degrees around to see body, the room, & saw those toenails, stained clothes, etc. Made me sad & mad. I know the staff is busy but I saw lack of concern here.

Based on this view (which i would've seen if I visited in person) I asked for a visit from the facility podiatrist & let them know about the dirty clothes. Technology has definitely helped improve our visits; a blessing really.
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My mother’s facility has worked very hard to keep the residents and staff safe. They offer face time visits, offer to help with phone calls, window visits. They have just started porch visits. These facilities are under such pressure. They are blamed when residents and staff get sick, and they are blamed for keeping residents “prisoners” when they put in restrictions so people don’t get sick. They can’t win. All I know is that I am grateful that my mother’s facility has been able to keep the facility symptom free for this entire time. And the staff can feel safer going to work. If there was no staff my mother wouldn’t be able to have the care she needs that I can’t provide to her.
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helenb63 Oct 12, 2020
You are so right. My mother chafed at the restrictions initially (although she is practically a recluse and hates socializing!), but now seems to have accepted the situation. As she and I have always had a difficult relationship (she's a narcissist who makes no efforts for herself), not being allowed into the building and expected to run errands and do chores is in fact a blessing for us. We have Mum round once a week to our house, which seems to be nicer for all of us. I am so grateful to her weekly carer, who has kept Mum going through lockdown.

But I appreciate that many people really miss seeing their relative and those who don't have family to take them out must be suffering horribly - almost as much, though in a different way, as if they caught the virus, maybe...?
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Update: I got my visit at MC today. It was in front of a very large picture window and the sound was poor, but I don’t think it mattered. My LO is very severe and not really able to focus on anything. Staff tried, but, she’s too out of it, She can’t hold her head up. She’s not sedated...just sleepy and sort of in a semi vegetative state, It was still good to see her though. You never know when it will be the last time.
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Contact your legislators and point to MN, where they passed legislation making it possible for people to become authorized as "essential caregivers" by facilities and who can be allowed inside no matter what. They passed this in June. Keep up the political pressure as much as possible.
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PeeWee57 Oct 8, 2020
Thank you for the heads-up on that. I located the MN guidance on Essential Caregivers and will forward it along to my state representative and senator, though I'm not optimistic about any action. My previous emails to them have gone unanswered, and even though my county Board of Commissioners wrote to them on my behalf, their letter went unacknowledged as well.

I did note that this is a voluntary program for MN facilities... and even if the NC General Assembly proposes such legislation, they face an uphill battle because the governor is of the opposing political party and will most likely veto it, as his plan for reopening (currently in Phase 3) still imposes significant restrictions on visitation. The LTC has advised me that they follow both CMS guidance and the state mandates, adhering to that which is most restrictive.

It's frustrating, to say the least. But I'll give it a shot.
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PeeWee, my husband, who is a medic, says have the police do a welfare check with you on your mom.
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No sign of opening LTC in Kansas. Mom now has advanced Alzheimer's and doesn't know me. It's horrible. She's lonely and thinks she's been forgotten.
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PeeWee57 Oct 12, 2020
I am so sorry to hear that... prayers for you and your mom. It IS horrible.
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My dad passed suddenly last month at his AL. He had been allowed out with me to go visit my mom through the window at her SN (thank goodness the day before I actually hugged my dad! I feel so much for those whose LOs have passed without this contact prior). When my dad passed I had to tell my mom through the window, but they did bend the rules - brought her outside in her wheelchair so we could hug her. At least they got to see each other two days before, but they hadn't held each other's hand or hugged for 7 months.

We still only have window visits with my mom and she is declining, especially because she sits in her room all day now. No activities, and she is also depressed because she hasn't been able to get her hair cut in 7 months. I don't understand why she can't see the beauty shop in her SN to cut her hair! All her adult life she has had a a very short haircut and now it's past her shoulders. I can tell it bothers her. She is declining so much she doesn't even want to read, something she's always enjoyed.

We've got to do something to get our LOs back to some semblance of normal. Why can't social distancing take place and have a musician even come in to play music? And I think the "Essential Caregiver" idea should be implemented.

Hugs to all of you going through this with your LOs.
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NobodyGetsIt Oct 12, 2020
Dear "Pstracy,"

I am so so sorry about your dad suddenly passing away last month at his ALF. I'm glad you were able to hug your dad. It breaks my heart as I know it has yours that you had to tell your mom through her window. Thankfully, her SNF did bend the rules and brought her outside so you and your dad were able to hug her one last time after not being able to for 7 months.

I feel for your mom - that she is declining as she just sits in her room all day. The lack of activities and not being able to go to the beauty shop is truly a shame. My mom is 95 with Alzheimer's and prior to COVID, I always made sure she had her hair done every other week and colored when it needed it. Now my mom's hair is 3/4 white which was a shock when I saw her. She needs a haircut too - the Activity Director offered but, my mom declined. Also, the director has two rescue dogs and just had a litter of Boston Terrier puppies a couple months ago which she brings to my mom and other residents. My mom used to enjoy reading as well but, doesn't as much anymore.

All I could do is go to Walmart and find a small radio player and had it set to her favorite classical music station. I also bought her a handheld poker game (she's played those for years), got her TV set up and bought some pretty pink artificial flowers. I bring her travel magazines occasionally to look at the pictures.

Just like you, my heart breaks for the families whose loved ones died without any physical touch and basically died alone.

I will be praying for your mom and you - I sure hope something can be done for her to lift her spirit.
God bless you both as you go through the grieving process and a hug to you too!
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