Since last March, almost a year later, the world is still learning how to cope with the ever-changing rules and regulations that the pandemic gave. In the beginning, there was a time when masks were not a required piece of foreign fabric that we were mandated to wear, having portable hand sanitizer and even rolls upon rolls of toilet paper easily accessible. Now, almost a year later, the world, citizens, and jobs are left in shambles, trying to piece together what we as a world went through. Many have been greatly affected by the pandemic, including myself and my family. For most who have an older relative, this unprecedented time caused panic on how our elders would handle isolation, boredom, and fear. I experienced this emotion firsthand when it came to the care of my grandfather.
The sense of normalcy changed for many, causing significant anxiety, depression, and uncertainty. Authors Laura Bliss and Jessica Lee Martin comment, “by late May, economies began to reopen, and communities re-revised their sense of normal…” (Bliss, 2020). However, it may take a while to relive their old routine and adapt to their new standard for some. For instance, before the pandemic, my grandpa was moved into his senior care facility, where he could visit with friends who had Alzheimer’s, interact with guest speakers, and many more socialization activities that would stimulate his brain. Nevertheless, when the pandemic hit, his nursing home decided it would cease all visitors, outside caretakers, and extra help a resident might need while living in the nursing home. The health center in the nursing home was also closed for safety reasons. Author Jason Corburn states, “health centers were the creation of block committees…creating a need for socialized medicine” (Corburn, 2007). This caused my family severe panic because he would be entirely on his own for the first time in over six years.
Once we had learned that he would be alone, my family and many other families wrote a petition asking for the nursing home to allow either the POA of the resident to come in once a day to check on how their loved one is doing or to allow for their extra caretaker to enter and continue taking care of the resident. With studies showing how isolation can be damaging to patients with Alzheimer’s, many families were hopeful that the nursing home would accept this petition. They would not allow doctors to check on the residents if they were showing any signs of sickness. Author Paul Mullins states, “before the Civil War, virtually all healthcare was conducted at home, including contagious disease quarantine…” (Mullins, 2020). Unfortunately, the petition was denied, causing my family and many others to worry about their loved ones. The nursing home did create an option for the residents to come to the first-floor window and see their loved one through the window while talking on the phone. My family and I signed up for this and would see my grandpa every other day and even tried to play tick-tack-toe with him. While this was a special moment during a time of panic and uncertainty, my grandpa lost over thirty pounds due to forgetting to eat. Once we heard from a nurse that his weight was rapidly declining, we knew that it lacked attention to the residents in the Alzheimer’s unit. Due to this, my family and I decided it was time to move him into another nursing home. One where he would live as an independent, but we would be able to hire twenty-four-seven care, around the clock to make sure he would be eating, showering, changing, and being mentally active.
I understand that many families have not been as fortunate as we were to move their loved ones or get more care than they might need but taking care of my grandpa is my number one priority. When we moved him into his nursing home, we thought he would be safe and cared for. I never imagined our normal would change in a matter of months to worrying if he had eaten lunch or dinner. While he is still getting used to seeing us with our masks on, our new normal is one that I would not change. Knowing he is safe, happy, and mentally active is all I can ask for in our contemporary world.