DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother is in a nursing home. She has recovered from COVID-19 in recent weeks. I haven’t seen her in months. Not seeing my mother has worn on me. She is so bright and vibrant. I saw her at least three times every week before the pandemic. I must have developed separation anxiety because I cry at all times of the day when I think of her. I feel like I have lost her and will never see her again. Not seeing her has really made me feel like she has passed on. But she hasn't; she is right where she always has been.
I have been demanding that her home let me see her, but they say it is just impossible. I talk to her for five or 10 minutes on the phone each week, but I just feel like I’ve abandoned her. At this point, I am ready to pull her from the home and bring her back to my place. Am I selfish if I do that? I just want her to be OK, and I have a feeling of guilt over not seeing her. -- Mama's Boy
DEAR MAMA’S BOY: The toll that COVID-19 has taken on our elders in nursing homes is hard to fathom. The isolation and loneliness are palpable, and experts say that many elders do not fare well in what has become a prisonlike environment. Further, like your mother, many elders have gotten the virus anyway from health care workers. It all seems unfair. As you are describing, what’s not discussed as often is the toll on family members who aren’t allowed to see their loved ones. It’s tough all around.
Talk to your mother’s doctor about her options. You need to have the capability to care for your mother if you bring her to live with you. How is her health, now that she has suffered COVID-19? The virus often leaves residual effects. What are her medical needs? Discuss everything with the doctor to weigh your options. For now, find out if her facility has an iPad or other such device. Many people are doing videocalls with their loved ones to help them stay connected.