Bans to Visit Nursing Homes Come with a Heavy Cost

Posted at 5:23 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 17:36:33-04

Since the ban of all visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities came into effect, the elderly are suffering from social isolation.

As part of our Rebound series, we break down what family members should be doing right now to keep their loved ones feeling special during this difficult time.

“And this is how we have to deal with seeing her, through this door,” said Darlene Summerlin.

Darlene and her siblings have been seeing her 91-year-old mother through a glass door for weeks. Darlene’s mother has been staying in Kendall Lakes Rehabilitation center in Miami since Thanksgiving. She was admitted after surgery.

“She had fallen and broken her hip and they had to do the surgery. Then after the surgery, they sent her to a rehab,” said Darlene.

But expected weeks of stay turned into months.

Over a month ago, Governor Ron DeSantis suspended all visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities from family members and friends.

The move was praised by public health advocates desperate to contain the spread of COVID-19, but it also carries cost.

“It’s quite sad honestly. It’s very sad because she doesn’t understand so she thinks her five kids aren’t coming to see her. That is what’s difficult,” said Darlene.

Psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Bober, says the isolation will significantly increase the stress of long-term care residents and leave some in greater jeopardy.

“You have the perfect storm of social isolation and loneliness. Many of the people in nursing homes are there because their families are unable to take care of them because of their chronic health conditions. So, they, literally like clockwork, know when these families are coming to visit them. They count on it every single day," said Dr. Bober.

For this reason, Dr. Bober advises family members who have been shut out by center lock downs to stay connected.

“There’s no perfect solution. We just have to try to the best we can. I encourage family members to look in on their elderly loved ones even if it’s from out of state. Just a phone call," said Dr. Bober.

As for Darlene, they’re continuing to visit her mother every week and on holidays.

“Try to call as much as you can, try to FaceTime as much as you can, and if you can find a way to go see them, go as often as you can. When you get there, you can FaceTime other family members that can’t go or grandchildren, just to keep them positive, happy, and looking forward for tomorrow," said Darlene.

Darlene says her mother’s birthday is coming up, she’ll be 92 on May 20th and they plan on doing something very special for her.

If you're looking for ways to help your family get through this crisis, you can reach Dr. Bober at 954-967-6776.