The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into everyone’s life in one way or another. For those with loved ones in nursing homes, these challenges have been especially painful.
Most care facilities were forced to close their doors to outside visitors in mid-March. That meant Mary Daniel of Jacksonville, Florida, could not continue her nightly ritual of visiting her husband Steve for an indefinite amount of time.
Steve has early-onset Alzheimer’s, so he’s been living at Rosecastle at Deerwood, a retirement and assisted living community, for about a year now. He was enjoying his time there, but when Mary stopped being able to come by, his happiness began to decline.
“I put him in a memory care center and everything was going really, really well,” Mary said. “He was thriving with all the people, and in March, obviously everything changed.”
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Mary appealed to both the facility and her state government to find a way to visit him. She also petitioned the local news to ask for more lenience in visitation rights for vulnerable patients — and started a Facebook group for caregivers in similar positions.
She was terrified that Steve would forget her as his Alzheimer’s advanced, and window visits were too painful for them. “I did that twice, and he just cried,” she told The Washington Post. “I decided not to do that anymore, since he’s better when he’s not crying at the window. That wasn’t doing him any good.”
Just when she had given up hope, she received a call from Rosecastle’s corporate office. They said they were looking for a new dishwasher… and as a member of the staff, Mary would have access to the patients. She leapt at the chance and took the job on the spot!
On July 3rd, after almost four months apart, Mary and Steve were finally reunited!
“After 114 days, I got to hug my husband today. I also washed a lot of dishes,” Mary wrote on Facebook. “Proof where there’s a will there’s a way! I love you, Steve Daniel!”
Kelley Withrow, the executive director of Rosecastle, explained that visitor restrictions are necessary.
“But it has been hard on families and residents alike, so we felt creative solutions were necessary, especially in the case of Mary and Steve,” she continued. “We are happy to report that Mary is off to a great start in her new role, and we are excited to see the positive changes in Steve’s demeanor as well.”
Mary is absolutely correct: Where there’s a will, there’s a way! We can all learn a few things from her tenacity and willingness to work hard to be there for her loved ones!
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