The COVID-19 Pandemic: One Year Later “A WWII Veteran who had lived through a lot of hard times was essentially a prisoner shut away from friends and family the last months of his life”

This is part two of an ongoing series about the COVID-19 Pandemic: One Year Later and how it affected Richardson County residents. 

By Nikki McKim

Over a year after the COVID pandemic started, families learn to cope and live with adjustments and changes they’ve made. 

This installment comes from a Richardson County resident that wished to remain anonymous but had their world completely turned upside down by COVID-19. 

They shared that, like many others, they made adjustments to the little things just like everyone else. Such as the way they shopped. They were more mindful with where they went, keeping their distance from others, staying out of crowds and keeping their hands clean, but that wasn’t the biggest impact on their lives. 

“The biggest impact on our family was how the elderly were handled during this pandemic. Let me say all local facilities have been so very, very kind and understanding. They seemed to give 100 percent to their duties while trying to navigate the ever-changing guidelines, and they give so much more to substitute for the family who were not allowed to be with their loved one. I can’t thank them enough.”

When sharing the past year’s journey, she said their elderly parents had been living in an area Assisted Living Facility. A year ago, it was decided with her mother’s failing memory she would need to be moved to a skilled facility, and she was moved to a local one in March. 

“I never dreamed that when the doors clicked closed behind me the evening of the move, I would never enter them again to this day. When Mom called with sheer fear pulsating through the phone line because she didn’t understand, and was surrounded by people she didn’t know, those doors were locked shut to me. There was nothing I could do to alleviate her fear. Nothing I could do to ease my breaking heart but sit on the edge of my bed with tears flowing and deliberately envision placing her in the arms of Jesus. When outdoor visits were finally allowed, and mom wanted to give me a goodbye hug at the end of the allotted time, I had to tell her no. Only to have her look at me in confusion. And now, after a stroke landed mom in the hospital, and I could hug her; I’ve been robbed of a return hug.”  

In the meantime, her dad sat in the assisted living facility. He sat alone in his room for every meal and one of the few joys in his life-a visit from his family was ripped away. Activities were canceled and something as simple as a ride in the country was off-limits. 

A fall landed him in another facility, where he eventually passed away. 

“He had no desire to live. A WWII Veteran who had lived through a lot of hard times was essentially a prisoner shut away from friends and family the last months of his life. By the time I was allowed to be with him, he no longer recognized I was there.”

She stated that stories similar to theirs are repeated thousands of times over. 

“In the name of keeping them safe, our elderly loved ones have been made prisoners, shut away from the few joys they have left in life—seeing their family, getting and receiving hugs, taking walks, and drives to their favorite places. They have been left to fight depression, and yes, in too many cases dying lonely and mostly alone. The whole idea of locking them away ‘today so we could be with them ‘tomorrow’ is a mockery. For many, there will be no ‘tomorrow.’ Is Covid real? Yes. But so is a multitude of other ailments, physical and mental. We have never been asked to treat our loved ones in such an inhuman way in the name of safety.”

She asked for leadership on every level to step up now.  

“We owe these most precious citizens who nurtured us, fought for us, loved and cared for us, the privilege of having their loved ones with them in their last months, weeks, days. Guidelines need to be changed so we can be with them now. Our loved ones need us. And we need them! While having some sensible precautions in place, if need be, there need to be laws and guidelines in place that families are never locked away from each other like this ever again. Window visits, social distanced visits, face time and other similar methods can never take the place or fill the void of face-to-face visits and the touch of a loved one in the privacy of their own room.”

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