Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Window Visits with Grandpa Get Harder

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: Our state is still seeing high COVID case numbers, so all the local nursing homes are still closed to visitors. I understand all the precautions are necessary, but it is getting harder on both my grandpa and my family to only have short visits at his window. His nursing home had more than 20 positives, and two people were in the hospital. It makes us all nervous that he could be next.

He has dementia, and we can’t decide if it does him more good than bad when we show up with masks on and he can’t even see our faces to help him remember who we are. He still clearly knows my mom and dad, although he can’t always remember their names, but he is less sure about my brother, his wife, and their toddler, and me and my boyfriend, who my grandpa has known for years.

Do you think it’s just more scary and confusing for my grandfather to be seeing these people he doesn’t know for sure, all wearing masks, instead of our just waiting until we can visit without our faces covered and he can see who we are? --- DON’T WANT TO MAKE IT WORSE FOR MY GRANDPA

DEAR DON’T WANT TO MAKE IT WORSE FOR MY GRANDPA: This is a topic to discuss with your family and your grandfather’s caregivers, who see how he is after his visitors leave and may offer some useful feedback.

Your parents can ask if video chats are available, since that way your grandfather could see faces, even if it’s only on a cellphone or pad screen.

What might also help is if your family avoids group visits. One or two masked faces at a time might be easier for him to process and allow for a more focused visit.

Another thing you could do, if you already haven’t, is make sure your grandpa has labeled photos of loved ones. Since space is most likely limited in his room, photobooks and albums may be a good option.

Need advice? Please send your questions to Someone Else’s Mom at