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SNF Residents Dying of Broken Hearts Due to Visitation Restrictions?

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Many states are now relaxing their in-person nursing home visitation regulations after accusations by families that their loved ones are dying of broken hearts.  These strict restrictions have caused many gut-wrenching experiences for families and residents....and most likely nurses who have to witness this. 

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For the most part, visitors are required to stay outside and meet relatives in gardens or on patios where they stay at least 6 feet apart, supervised by a staff member. Appointments are scheduled in advance and masks are mandated. Only one or two visitors are permitted at a time.

Although not without risks, as of July 7, 26 states plus the District of Columbia have given permission for nursing home visits under the above guidelines. 

To read the article in its entirely and a map of states that have relaxed their rules, go to https://khn.org/news/states-allow-in-person-nursing-home-visits-as-families-charge-residents-die-of-broken-hearts/

A Hit With The Ladies, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych.

Thank you for sharing. It's absolutely disgusting how much emotional and mental anguish the government diktats have been on some of the most vulnerable among our citizenry. I heard in San Antonio newborn babies were quickly being separated from their mothers because of COVID fears. And to think that our elderly living in care homes, who are already deprived of good close contacts with family and friends, are effectively imprisoned from the world for possibly the rest of their lives (if Fauci and his scumbag allies get their way) all in the name of "stopping the spread". It's almost like these fiends want to destroy everything good about America (our love for freedom, our connection with friends and family, our cultural openness and curiosity in trying new things and learning about the world around us). All so the government can have unprecedented and totalitarian control over our lives. If Trump were half the president Reagan was he'd have shipped Fauci off to an assignment in northern Alaska and given the Corona-obsessed socialists a one-way ticket to Russia to quarantine in their beloved gulags there for good.

Edited by A Hit With The Ladies

It's good to have some visitation than no visitation, but I'm concerned about them being outside in this heat and humidity. Some LTC facilities are offering phone and video chats to residents and families. Maybe LTC facilities should set up computer labs with cameras so families can have video chats with loved ones. They get to see one another just not in person, but some access to family is better than none.

3 hours ago, NurseBlaq said:

They get to see one another just not in person, but some access to family is better than none.

We have this. It isn't helping. My father has lost 16lbs and his dementia is exponentially worse because he is stuck in a 600 sq ft apartment. 

2 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

We have this. It isn't helping. My father has lost 16lbs and his dementia is exponentially worse because he is stuck in a 600 sq ft apartment. 

If he is in assisted living, can someone stay with him? His dementia may be getting worse because he's not seeing familiar faces and his routine has been obstructed.

16 minutes ago, NurseBlaq said:

If he is in assisted living, can someone stay with him? His dementia may be getting worse because he's not seeing familiar faces and his routine has been obstructed.

He is with my mom whose cognition has decidedly worsened as well.  We are not  allowed in the building even though my sister was willing to move in and not leave. We now can see them outside but it takes a huge toll on mom to get him dressed and downstairs. Unfortunately we were forced to move them in in the middle of this mess. 

So they aren't in an assisted living facility? If not, sounds like they both need to be where they can get some daily help with ADLs. I hope it works out for your family.

herring_RN, ASN, BSN

Specializes in Critical care, tele, Medical-Surgical.

The assisted living care home, where our step-Mom lived her last year, lets family visit. It is part of a 17 house chain. Each cares for six residents. 

The woman who runs it is educated as a dentist, but not licensed here. Each resident has his or her own room. There are always two caregivers on duty, and often the dentist lady and her husband because they live there. They are both certified as CNA and HHA. 

I only talk to her on the phone, except for once since March when I stood outside the window and waved. She said two family members from the same household can come in, sit at one end of the dining room table, and talk with their loved one. No more grandchildren doing hair and painting nails as they used to. None of the frequent hugs. And staff always wear a mask, of course. LOTS of hand washing. So far all staff and residents at that home have tested negative. There were positives and residents hospitalized at one of the houses last month. No one has died that I know of.

21 minutes ago, NurseBlaq said:

So they aren't in an assisted living facility? 

Yes, they are. In my state they started letting ALF residents visit outside with masks and distancing. It’s better than nothing but it has its drawbacks. 

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

Wuzzie - it sounds to me like your parents moved in to a new environment smack in the middle of C19. Would NOT that environmental change have been enough of a major distraction on its own deleterious merit??

Any kind of major lifestyle change is soooo discombobulating by itself. But then to add in the C19 social deprivation to boot ...

So sad that the elderly have had to experience such a burdensome situation. But what would have been the alternative???? Increased C19 risk???  If not  thru immed family contact, but perhaps the next-door neighbor's contacts?

We can't have it both ways. Sorry about the foregone hair stylings and fingernail paintings restrictions. Some things had to have been cut out. BUT - did everyone remain negative because of the restrictions?

I cringed when the restrictions first came out - it was sooo Draconian. But I believed it did help to curb the spread under otherwise hellish circumstances in NHs/ALFs. I concede that perhaps some restrictions could have been lifted a little earlier. And maybe facilities could have been more resourceful & innovative in providing visitation alternatives. But considering all that they were having to face, they did what they could.

SNF/elderly clients will continue to experience ongoing isolation sequellae. HC providers, along with concerned families and friends will need to think outside the box. And then the need to Spring for the cost of alternatives must be considered.

One critical thing must be remembered. It is crucial that no underlying pathology exists that might be overlooked or minimized by attributing  'broken hearts' to C19 decline/depression.

Our elders deserve the best we can provide. Am hopeful that it will be forthcoming.

 

32 minutes ago, amoLucia said:

Wuzzie - it sounds to me like your parents moved in to a new environment smack in the middle of C19. Would NOT that environmental change have been enough of a major distraction on its own deleterious merit??

Of course we have considered that. It would have been foolish not to. Actually mom was really looking forward to the move. For the first time in decades she would be close to her two daughters instead of 2 hours away. We had plans for decorating their new place, special outings, dinners together. We moved them to a beautiful place close to water so Dad could watch his beloved boats. The only thing that makes him happy. Their building backs up to a huge metro garden and there’s a path from the back patio right to it. None of these things we can do or enjoy. A year of this “inconvenience” doesn’t seem like much to you or I but they are in their 80s and nobody envisioned them potentially spending their final years essentially trapped. I’m not sure what your point is but I kind of resent your implication that we either aren’t doing enough, are overreacting and should basically suck it up. I’m not sure if you have parents in the same situation but I assure you this has nothing to do with hair or nails. It isn’t that easy. We have been unable to help them transition, heck we weren’t even allowed to move them. It was done by strangers.  In fact the first two weeks they weren’t even allowed out of their apartment. We stood every. single. day beneath their third floor window, regardless of the weather, waving and talking on the phone but sadly my dad can’t hear anymore so even that was limited. That’s how we celebrated my dad’s birthday and Easter as well. We’re already shelling 6K per month for this place and we’re of modest means. Neither myself or my siblings have houses appropriate or adaptable for them and they could not safely stay in theirs. I’m entirely unsure what more you feel we should have done or should now be doing  but I can assure you that their current struggles are, most certainly, a result of the current lockdown. 

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Wuzzie - My heart truly goes out to you.  😥

1 hour ago, Wuzzie said:

 Actually mom was really looking forward to the move. For the first time in decades she would be close to her two daughters instead of 2 hours away. We had plans for decorating their new place, special outings, dinners together. We moved them to a beautiful place close to water so Dad could watch his beloved boats. The only thing that makes him happy. Their building backs up to a huge metro garden and there’s a path from the back patio right to it. None of these things we can do or enjoy.

I bet that hurts. They moved closer and now you can't see them. They're right there yet untouchable. I'd be frustrated too. All I can say is enjoy the time you can with them during the days they come out to visit you. I know you want to hug them but you have to keep them safe.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

It is heart wrenching any way you cut it. Heart wrenching for those trapped in solitude and loneliness without even being able to see whole human faces and heart wrenching for those dying in solitude and loneliness without even being able to see whole human faces.

I don't know that there is a solution and I can't argue for or against it either way. It hurts. Either way, with or without visitors, it hurts. I am so sorry for all who are suffering along with their loved ones having to live through these unprecedented times.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health.

My MIL is in an assisted living here in Texas and no family has been allowed in the building since mid-March. They finally were allowed back to the dining area (instead of eating in their apartments alone) 3 weeks ago, but after an employee tested positive 2 weeks ago they are back to eating alone in their apartments. She is not doing well physically because of restricted movement. Her mild dementia is actually helping her mentally because she thinks the pandemic will be over tomorrow - every day.

My father who is completely competent is in assisted living in Wa state has been on lockdown (no visitors) since early March.  Eating alone in the apt. and no activities or bingo etc.  He is doing horribly and keeps requesting hospice even though he does not have any terminal illness.

Both have lived long and good lives. At 83 and 93. I think they are being protected too much. They will both die of something eventually and this isolation is worse than death for them. This is not quality of life.

27 minutes ago, CrunchRN said:

They will both die of something eventually and this isolation is worse than death for them. This is not quality of life.

I mentioned this before but my mom told me she'd rather die of Covid than loneliness.

I live in New England. I don't have contact with any SNFs but I live across the street from one. They’ve started having outdoor visits, which is nice... in Summer. Winters in Connecticut are brutal and very long. Are these elderly people to stay jailed from September to next April?  I have no solution but this seems absolutely inhumane.  Especially when people who have offered solutions for their own families (the commenter who offered to quarantine and move in to the facility) are turned down. 

On 7/14/2020 at 12:14 PM, NurseBlaq said:

It's good to have some visitation than no visitation, but I'm concerned about them being outside in this heat and humidity. Some LTC facilities are offering phone and video chats to residents and families. Maybe LTC facilities should set up computer labs with cameras so families can have video chats with loved ones. They get to see one another just not in person, but some access to family is better than none.

I have several resident who are used to seeing family daily, weekly etc. We are constantly doing FaceTime. Big difference from the human interaction they are used too. It’s a joke really. 

57 minutes ago, xanderx said:

I have several resident who are used to seeing family daily, weekly etc. We are constantly doing FaceTime. Big difference from the human interaction they are used too. It’s a joke really. 

Do you think that it could be different or better with different or better PPE?

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