Write Team: Who are the real unsung heroes?

In the beginning of the pandemic, we all watched in horror as the elderly of this world were targeted by this mass murderer called COVID-19. It took time for us to catch up with this deadly race to try saving lives as they were snuffed out by the thousands.

Things have somewhat calmed down now as strict state regulations stepped in to save the day and the lives of our seniors. Now that they are as safe as can be during a pandemic what becomes of them?

I recently started working at a nursing home and have had the honor of meeting these amazing people that have been tucked away for their own protection. Not a day goes by that I do not come across a grown adult in tears as they desperately try to understand what is happening. We all know what dementia and Alzheimer’s is and what it does to the elderly.

What people fail to understand is that the elderly do not know what is happening to them. How do you explain to someone who does not really understand what is happening, that they have to wear a mask or go back to their room? Family is not able to visit them in their room so most of them have not had a visitor in over a year. Window visits are acceptable if the family wanted to stand in the snow or rain. During the week there are five or six spread out time slots available with a regulation that states only two people from the same household can visit for 15 minutes behind a plastic wall. With 85 residents you can do the simple math of how long people must wait for an appointment to see a loved one.

Absolutely no physical contact is allowed. I agree with these regulations but when was the last time these people where hugged or had their hand held by a family member? There is absolutely no outside entertainment allowed in the building so no cute school concerts or musicians can visit to break up the monotony of everyday life.

I was told that a psychiatrist visits once a month, I have yet to see this, but with limited staff and no continuous counseling who is left to help these people understand what is happening? They watch TV with actors that do not wear masks, but they are told to stay in their room if they do not wear one. The nursing staff is nothing but exceptional but still not able to give the one-on-one care that is required for the mental health of these very depressed and confused people.

We have a giant sign out front of the facility that states “Heroes Work Here.” Honestly, these heroes are people who chose to do this for a living. I think the sign should read “Heroes Live Here.”