"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Covid and the Inhumanity of Isolating the Elderly

Susan's Father, March 2020
This is Susan's story.

Or more accurately, this is the story of Susan's father. 

Susan's father is pictured to the left in a photo from March 2020, just days before the government-mandated lockdowns of our elderly in nursing homes and living centers throughout the country, isolating them from their loved ones. Susan's father lives in a nursing center 25 miles south of Enid, Oklahoma. 

Susan shares her story and the pictures of her father to illustrate the inhumanity of isolating the elderly from their loved ones. After she shares her story (below), Susan asks that you pay close attention to the picture of her father that taken last week, the first week of September 2020. According to Susan,  the picture shows the effects that six months of isolation from loved ones have had on her father.

Susan reads my blog. I don't know Susan, but recently she wrote to me an email expressing her gratitude for writing so plainly about controversial issues during these Covid-19 times.

I'll not comment on Susan's story except for one caveat at the beginning, and a summary at the end. My caveat: Some of my best friends in this life own nursing homes and living centers. I pray for them daily. My job as a pastor is a breeze compared to their jobs in 2020. 

What is happening in nursing homes and living centers is not the fault of nursing home administrators. They are doing their best. They are under government mandates. They also face severe pressure from the public, from families, and from health departments.

But there comes a time when peoples' stories need to be heard. There are worse things than dying from Covid-19. One of those things is living isolated from loved ones. 

If the cure becomes worse than the disease, then living is worse than death. 

Here's Susan's story, unedited and reprinted with permission. 

"My Dad is in the nursing home. He has dementia, diabetes, and profound loss of hearing. The lockdown due to Covid-19 has been an extraordinary hardship for him. He has had no physical contact with his family for six months now. He is confused and does not understand why we have abandoned him. But he does know that he is alone and it has taken away his reason to want to live. I am writing this because we don’t know how much time has has left. He is skin and bones from not wanting to eat. We eat to live and if you are completely isolated from everyone who loves you, then what do you have to live for?

The staff comes and goes about their own lives normally as they should! Physical therapist, doctors, inspectors all coming and going in the nursing home. The only ones not allowed in are the families. My parents have been married for 56 years. And they can’t see each other face-to-face, can’t hold each other’s hand. This is having a terrible toll on my mother as well. This is breaking the spirit of them both!

Being deaf my father has to see your face to understand what you’re telling him, but with everybody with a mask on, It has just made him more isolated.

My dad got Covid-19 anyway as did most of the residents in his facility. He went to the hospital where he was in a blacked out room. Didn’t know if it was daytime or nighttime. Hadn’t had his teeth brushed, Not allowed to go have a shower as Covid-19 patients aren’t allowed in the shower room. He was in there for 10 days! He physically recovered but emotionally he has not recovered, and will not recover until he can have contact with the only thing he cares about, his family. He is depressed, confused, and very alone. 

This has gone on far too long! They can’t even get their haircut, or sit together in the dining room, left laying in a bed, no fresh air, no sunshine. they are isolated to their bedroom and they have been for far too long. The families are suffering heartbreak and anger as well knowing their loved ones are dying alone, without being able to say goodbye, they will never get over this. 

So again I am begging, reunite the families with their loved ones in the nursing home. I am attaching two pictures of my father one was taken in May during lockdown but allowed out of their rooms and the second one taken when I picked him up from the hospital and returned him to the nursing home, you can see how much ground he has lost in just a few short months. 

This is inhumane and cruel for the end of their life to be locked up alone afraid and confused. We do not have much time left. 

This is urgent! Please allow us to be together." 

Susan's Father, September 2020

The old Hans Christian Anderson fable called The Emperor's New Clothes tells the story of an emperor in an ancient country that hired two weavers to make the king some new clothes. The weavers, unknown to the king, were professional swindlers. They took the king's money with no intention of making the king new clothes. A succession of court officials, and then the emperor himself, visited the weavers' shop to check on their progress. They all saw that the looms were empty, but having heard the weavers were allegedly the best in the world, the king and his court each pretended to see fine clothes being woven lest others think them foolish.  Soon, the king rides in procession before the entire city in the new clothes purchased from the weavers. The king is naked. But the people are too uncomfortable to declare the truth. They're afraid of the king. They're concerned they may be the only ones saying something is wrong. They are afraid of a backlash from others. That is, until a little boy cries out, "The king has no clothes!"

The government has come to the conclusion in 2020 that it is better for the elderly to isolate, shelter-in-place, and keep away from loved ones from fear of "catching Covid-19" than to allow families to live their lives making choices that are best for their loved ones. The people have complied. The individual liberty of American families has been overrun by forced compliance to the American government.

Susan is like that little boy in Hans Christian Anderson's story. She wants it known that something is wrong with the present situation in our country and she's willing to speak up and let her voice be heard.

It's better to live life loving the elderly under the threat of imminent death than to live life isolating the elderly in the hope of extended life. 

10 comments:

Muff Potter said...

I'm with you on this one Wade.
The cruelty and inhumanity is unimaginable.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

This's a heart-breaking story.

Our favorite cousin, Claude Hicks, was in the navy and scheduled to invade Japan. But two weeks before, the BOMB ended the war.

He was in a nursing home, and we were not allowed to visit.

When he died, his wife was in a nursing home and wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral because of the virus. He was buried at Dallas Forth Worth National Cemetery that has 41,000 graves.

There were no “Taps”, no flag to be given to a loved one. The number allowed to attend was six. All we could see from 200 yards, was a backhoe digger, and men lowering a coffin.

Mom_of_Johns_sons said...

My heart goes out to Susan. We have a family member who is in a nursing home and covid positive. One staff member passed it on to 8 residents.

It sounds like the home this gentleman is in has not been very creative or accommodating to the residents in terms of providing routine normalcy or maintaining a safe relationship/connection with loved ones.

Sympotm free residents in the nursing home I speak of are allowed to attend activities outside of their rooms, and they get their hair styled also. The home has several different avenues for residents and family to keep connected. The most innovative visit option is face to face where no one wears a mask. The resident is positioned in a plexiglass cube that stays in a controlled environment and family members are right on the outside of the cube. While there is no physical contact, each party can place there hands together on their side of the plexiglass. It really is a very natural feeling visit conducted in a entry way between two double doorways. This entryway provides a nice echo which helps those with hearing deficits and also offers protection from the elements for everyone.

I understand how hard this pandemic has been on separated family members. However, because this is a communal living setting with many vulnerable residents AND a virus that spreads exponentially it seems a bit unrealistic to just say families should be allowed to visit their loved ones because,
"It's better to live life loving the elderly under the threat of imminent death than to live life isolating the elderly in the hope of extended life."

I know the administrators and staff in the nursing home I've mentioned are under tremedous stress trying to make sure no other residents or staff members contract the virus. I was talking to a nurse last night who mentioned the ABSOLUTE fear staff members have of possibly catching the virus and taking it home to their own families.

Perhaps Susan and her family of the should consider bringing and caring for their loved at home in order to have more personal connections. Yes, the whole situation seems wrong, but no clear solution is offered to allow visiting to resume in a way that will protect ALL residents and staff from exposure.

I know it might not be possible for Susan's families to care for their loved ones at home. I understand and empathize with how heartbreaking these separations arw. Nobody is happy being separated from their loved ones and wondering if their loved one will die before physical contact resumes. However, many also don't want to possibly expose their loved ones to the virus which could bring about a horrific death either.

I can understand residents and family members saying the risk is worth not being separated from their loved ones. However, those individuals should then find a way to assume the care for loved ones at home; because their right to have access should not take supersede other's right to not risk exposure.

Mom_of_Johns_sons said...

My heart goes out to Susan. We have a family member who is in a nursing home and covid positive. One staff member passed it on to 8 residents.

It sounds like the home this gentleman is in has not been very creative or accommodating to the residents in terms of providing routine normalcy or maintaining a safe relationship/connection with loved ones.

Sympotm free residents in the nursing home I speak of are allowed to attend activities outside of their rooms, and they get their hair styled also. The home has several different avenues for residents and family to keep connected. The most innovative visit option is face to face where no one wears a mask. The resident is positioned in a plexiglass cube that stays in a controlled environment and family members are right on the outside of the cube. While there is no physical contact, each party can place there hands together on their side of the plexiglass. It really is a very natural feeling visit conducted in a entry way between two double doorways. This entryway provides a nice echo which helps those with hearing deficits and also offers protection from the elements for everyone.

I understand how hard this pandemic has been on separated family members. However, because this is a communal living setting with many vulnerable residents AND a virus that spreads exponentially it seems a bit unrealistic to just say families should be allowed to visit their loved ones because,
"It's better to live life loving the elderly under the threat of imminent death than to live life isolating the elderly in the hope of extended life."

I know the administrators and staff in the nursing home I've mentioned are under tremedous stress trying to make sure no other residents or staff members contract the virus. I was talking to a nurse last night who mentioned the ABSOLUTE fear staff members have of possibly catching the virus and taking it home to their own families.

Perhaps Susan and her family of the should consider bringing and caring for their loved at home in order to have more personal connections. Yes, the whole situation seems wrong, but no clear solution is offered to allow visiting to resume in a way that will protect ALL residents and staff from exposure.

I know it might not be possible for Susan's families to care for their loved ones at home. I understand and empathize with how heartbreaking these separations arw. Nobody is happy being separated from their loved ones and wondering if their loved one will die before physical contact resumes. However, many also don't want to possibly expose their loved ones to the virus which could bring about a horrific death either.

I can understand residents and family members saying the risk is worth not being separated from their loved ones. However, those individuals should then find a way to assume the care for loved ones at home; because their right to have access should not take supersede other's right to not risk exposure.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gerry Milligan said...

Wade, what is happening, because of COVID-19, is difficult for most of us. I live in a retirement community and the restrictions are terrible. But, virtually all of our discomfort has been dictated by the government. What to do... rebel or follow Romans 15? No easy answer.

Christiane said...

"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 Who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from
God.

5For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us,
so also through Christ our comfort overflows."

(from Corinthians, chapter 2)

Heather said...

I agree with Susan on the fact that isolation with the elderly is a death sentence in its self. I’ve worked in nursing facilities over 20 years! I have seen the rapid decline and death of residents whose significant other has passed! I took care of a couple that was married for over 60 years. Husband wasn’t in good health but wife was in excellent health. When husband passed, wife passed 2 weeks later!
Also care for an elderly man on his death bed for weeks. No food or water! Hospice kept telling family it could be anytime...but his heart wouldn’t stop! We informed family members to come and say their goodbyes! Sometimes it’s seems like the spirit needs the ok from loved ones that they can go! He still didn’t pass! Wife then told staff that he was probably waiting on the harvest numbers. We just thought she was being sarcastic. He was a hard working farmer all his life! Sure enough when wife got harvest numbers and told her husband, he passed with in the hour! This is how God made us. We have a social nature for fellowship and to love!
One of Adam’s first task was cultivating the garden!

Covid 19 has been “predicted” for years by certain people, even made a movie on it! The fear of this virus was already being implanted in people’s minds long time ago! It was suppose to kill millions of people but seems to mainly target our older generation?! The highest death rate numbers are 85 yo and up! So heres a question for ya..why did certain big cities place covid positive patients from the hospitals to recover in a nursing home??!


How Can We Tell When Satan Is at Work? He wants to hurt God by separating Him from His children and by separating His children from one another. Satan brings complication and confusion. “How can we really understand what truth is?”

I’m been badly struggling with this myself! I’ve socially distance myself (not due to covid). I don’t want to be a nurse anymore! I’ve been praying hard for Jesus to help me with these selfish and depressive thoughts! I know I’m better than this!

Anyways, I want to thank Susan for bringing to light this matter! We the people need to help advocate for individuals who can’t speak up for themselves! She has done an amazing job bringing social interaction to the nursing home residents! She took church kids to the home to draw pictures on the windows for the residents to enjoy amongst other things! Susan and her husband has held fundraisers and built nice cover for the back patio prior to covid! Also want to say thank you and give virtual hugs to all Hennessey care staff! I know how hard it is to provide quality care for your residents without being in a pandemic!! 4 times harder being short staffed and can’t breathe due to mask wearing all day! Then of course Jill DON and other administration staff dealing with State of Oklahoma (who don’t care how under staffed you are) coming out to facility to make sure everything is in order including stupid repetitive paperwork! That’s one reason I don’t wanna be a nurse anymore is documenting requirements have quadrupled since I was 17. Plus continued to provide quality of care!
You don’t have enough time or staff anymore to do this! Oh and FYI too readers who isn’t in the healthcare field...these essential people DONT have to be paid if off for Covid related issues or get the extra federal unemployment benefits!

Thank you again! Praying this will end soon!!

RB Kuter said...

Our society seems bent on displaying the ultimate in decadence and inhumanity, discarding the life of THE most vulnerable as though it is worthless rubbish to be disposed without regard. Millions of babies each year actually destroyed and literally thrown into the garbage. Now those seniors who possess the treasures of a past and history that would be considered as precious resources for a sane and moral society that could recognize the value of "life" itself and the wisdom of those who have journeyed the furthest are sentenced to the cruelest of solitary confinement until their lives are extinguished. In some instances, decisions are made to actually accentuate the likelihood of their being killed by forcing infected residents to leave the hospital and return into the confined space of the homes instead of placing them in other quarantined hospitals or residences.

When living in Asia, those people were horrified at the concept of nursing homes when we mentioned how we use them in the US for the residence and care of our elderly. They had a few homes for the most extreme cases, when the family could afford them, but by and large the families arranged their lifestyles around the priority of their elders who they valued as being the treasures of the family.

I know we cannot adapt our living to providing the full time care that is necessary for our seniors, but still, the concept is honorable and reflects the honor due to them. We have come a long way as a society. Unfortunately, we are traveling further from God and deeper into the wilderness. We need the brightness of the church's shining light to provide the signal as to what direction we should be headed as never before.

Christiane said...

sometimes we have to let people speak for themselves in order to figure out who they are:




what we were told:

"It's all going to go away."

what he knew:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/09/politics/bob-woodward-rage-book-trump-coronavirus/index.html