We went into semi-lockdown one month ago today. Prior to then, people were being urged to practice healthy safeguards but we weren’t confined to our homes. We engaged with people, greeting each other with smiles, elbow bumps or perhaps a slight bow. The ability to socially interact was taken for granted.
Now anything ‘social’ is done remotely, via phone and digital media like Facebook, FaceTime and Zoom. Even if we aren’t sick, we’re pretty much in quarantine, urged to stay home except for essential travel or an emergency, and maintain a six foot separation from people when we venture out for supplies.
Until recently I didn’t consider any of this isolation to be much of a hardship. I’m an introvert; I enjoy staying home. When hospitals also enforced it, closing their doors to everyone except those needing emergent care, it seemed like a good idea. Then, as the COVID-19 death toll rose, we learned those who were dying were leaving this life while alone among strangers. Spouses and other family members were prevented from being present. (See one story HERE.)
That, considered along with the statistics that tell us approximately 50% of all deaths across Canada have happened in nursing homes, and 90% were people over sixty, make the numbers more personal. Too personal.
My heart aches for both the patients and the families. The pain of separation at such moments must be unbearable. I can’t imagine. I don’t want to.
On March 11th a long-time elderly friend died in a long-term care facility. COVID-19 wasn’t involved. A friend/caregiver spent time with her the previous evening and said she was “unresponsive but content”, and she died peacefully early the next morning. Another friend, ten years younger, is also living in long-term residential care, but she is more active and aware. I’m not allowed to visit her now, and I’m concerned for her. She can’t comprehend the pandemic and its impact on her community, only that her family and friends are no longer visiting.
It seems inhumane to warehouse in isolation those who are the least able to understand what’s going on. But then I have trouble with the whole concept of shunting our seniors off to live out their final years/months among strangers anyway. Then to have them die among strangers, too? I know…I know…sometimes there are no other options; but I don’t have to like it.
Perhaps being a ‘senior senior’ makes me biased.