We’ve always stood strong in our values and recognized the power of the spoken word. Sometimes words are not enough, and photos tell more of the story. The images and videos help us to see another’s perspective and encourage us to take action.
This past Saturday, August 8, 2020, I witnessed an incredibly emotional display of LOVE. There was anger, frustration, worry, grief, and a lot of LOVE. the TX Caregivers for Compromise group gathered at the Capitol building in Austin, Texas to tell their stories and share their images. Having already read many Facebook posts, I had an idea what to expect, however, once I met the people impacted, I knew we had to do more than simply report on this issue.
Featured Long Term Care Community Staff
We recently highlighted long term care staff who provide direct care to some of our most vulnerable populations in our blog and on social media. At the time, they were all Covid-19 free. We visited their communities and photographed the team members present with their masks. We did this outside of course. You can see it HERE.
Covid-19 has continued to infiltrate long term care communities. With the protected environment, families could not visit and staff have done their best to accommodate, share information with families, and offer extra time and hugs to their residents. A COVID infection could be painful and deadly to our elderly, vulnerable residents.
Counting the Days in Isolation and Watching the Decline from the Window
If Covid-19 is detected in the building, residents often spend their days inside their rooms. Meals are sent in. Families have resorted to window visits, but you might imagine how scary it would be for someone with dementia to see someone with a mask come to their window unexpectedly. Quite often, Facetime, Zoom and other media streaming doesn’t always make sense either.
Families and staff can’t help but notice and feel powerless as their residents and family members decline rapidly with no visits, limited socialization, and missing their families. Their stories are heartbreaking.
I read stories of the elderly dying alone without their families even if there was no COVID in the building. Families, who previously brought gifts, did their mother’s nails, entertained and talked with their family members, offered hugs, and be quick to pick up changes and the need for medical attention. Some families are present for many if not all meals because their loved one needs to be fed.
I read stories of how quickly the loved ones declined, and how the families attempt to get inside and take care of their mother, wife, father, or grandparents are not successful. States have laws, counties have orders and then long term care communities are doing their best to keep everyone happy and COVID free. Everyone wants to err on the side of keeping residents healthy, all while the social isolation and loneliness cause deadly declines. Families see photos of their loved ones and barely recognize them. They are feeling powerless, frustrated, angry, and unbelievable grief.
What’s the Issue?
He Hasn’t Seen His Wife of 39 Years in Months…Except Through a Glass Window
His wife of 39 years, he hasn’t held her hand, hugged her, or seen her other than through a window. She doesn’t understand why and thinks she is in prison. She no longer recognizes her family. This gentleman spoke at Saturday’s TX Caregivers for Compromise at the TX State Capitol. I heard stories and how the recent changes (limited visitors if no staff test + for 2 weeks, no active COVID…) because larger communities won’t see this for a long time. Across the nation, our fellow humans are sequestered for their safety. It made sense for the short run, but only until a better solution can be made. Families want to have at least one designated family because watching their wives, parents and even children fade before them is intolerable. Isolation kills too. Part of our mission is to raise awareness so I attended the rally and my heart broke hearing story after story. Not all had dementia but all need our support.
About TX Caregivers for Compassion
I attended the rally for Texas Caregivers for Compromise at the Texas Capitol in Austin. They are part of a national group called Caregivers for Compromise. While each state, region, and even long term care (LTC) community differs, people are watching the ones they love decline. They are dying alone. Many LTC communities have limited staff members secondary to the Covid-19 crisis. Staff members are ill or too afraid to come to work. Even the most loving LTC communities cannot replace the touch of a family member.
TX Caregivers for Compassion’s mission is to change the laws and rules about family visitation in long term care communities. The stories of decline and death are heartbreaking. While we’ve got bars and shopping centers open (I could go on…) their loved ones are fading quickly without those they love. Some with dementia believe they are in prison while being sequestered to their rooms. It is the mission of Doggies for Dementia Foundation to raise awareness and so I listened to stories and captured many photos and videos today all while I wanted to cry.
Doggies for Dementia has applauded the work of LTC communities as we believe most professional caregivers serve with very big hearts and much love. I have no doubt most want to see their residents thrive and are also heartbroken to see those they love decline and even die without their families.
This is a case of our society learning to cope and now adapt to COVID. It’s time to rethink and change visitation in LTC before our most vulnerable fade away while families are left to grieve feeling intense sorrow, anger, and powerlessness. Watch for our short documentary on this subject later this week. We must unite and care for one another now more than ever before.
What YOU Can Do
Unless our lawmakers understand the real issues of family caregivers, laws will be inadequate and not meet their needs. Unless you’ve been a family caregiver, you may not understand the URGENCY of this crisis and I believe the more we know, the better we can do. I created this short video as a way to show the heart of this issue. Our hearts are with them, and we stood side by side (6 feet away of course) as I made a promise to use my time and talent to make a difference.
Send Letters, Emails-share your own story. If you haven’t been directly impacted, but these stories move you, make a huge impact by telling our lawmakers what you think of this. We have bars and other places people gather openly. Families are willing to have one designated visitor and wear full PPE—even at their own expense. Our most vulnerable citizens are dying alone. There must be a COMPROMISE TODAY!
It takes a village.
Reach out to the Facebook group and simply ask how you can help.
It isn’t easy to share your greatest fears and recount the most heartbreaking time of your life, but these people did. They spoke loud and clear so we could all learn and do something now. I thank Carlie and Travis Felps for their contribution. She says she’s just a girl who misses her Daddy. Cynthia Berry had to make one of the toughest decisions of her life-when to say goodbye to her aunt. Beverly Damron visits her mother’s window every day, watches as she worsens and cannot even hold her mother’s hand. Jamie Gartner’s father has Alzheimer’s Disease and contracted Covid-19. She hasn’t been able to be with him.