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Pandemic restrictions creating challenges for families of those in care homes

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 8:57 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives. Those with loved ones in care homes are no different.

Before the pandemic, Mike Morcom of Reno could visit his wife Shellie whenever he wanted. Shellie has dementia and is living in a care home in Mogul.

Now, Mike has to communicate with Shellie with a piece of glass between them.

“I’m losing that physical contact,” Mike said. “I’m losing that ability to sense how she’s doing.”

In addition to the glass, Mike is asked to wear a mask. Shellie wears one as well, which has made communication even harder.

Mike says being able to see each other’s face really helps the two because, with Shellie’s dementia, they need to be able to see each other talk. On top of all that, Mike can only visit her once a week.

Nikki Rubarth with the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern Nevada Chapter says the human connection patients got from loved ones was what kept many of them going.

“It kind of kept them healthier for longer because they had that level of connection," said Rubarth. "But now that that’s not happening, it’s really so much harder for people to just live in this situation.”

The Alzheimer’s Association has reached out to local and national leaders about making the situation within care homes better.

Rubarth says the include rapid testing, more personal protective equipment (PPE), education and support, and greater attention to the coronavirus in care homes.

For people like Mike Morcom, accomplishing these goals could a big step in being able to communicate with their loved ones once again.

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