At the time of writing this, it’s 12 days since my mother passed away alone in a nursing home. It was my worst fear come true. I’m told that a couple of staff were with her, but it wasn’t the way I envisioned my mother’s last moments on earth.
I guess there really is no ideal way you want a parent to transition, aside from the best-case scenario where you learn that a person “died in the presence of family,” or “peacefully while resting.” Neither was true for my mother. She had been sick. She had been depressed, and she was alone without any family.
This experience has changed me forevermore. Grief takes you to a place where you question your every word and action. I find myself spending hours staring at the black ceiling at night wondering what I could have done differently.
I feel so much remorse and regret from her being placed in the facility in the first place. For me, it was a death sentence when I learned she was being put inside a private nursing home hundreds of miles away from me—she in Plano and me in Chicago—and there was no way I could visit.
I learned a lot from the experience, and now I want to help you. Here’s what you need to know about having a parent in a nursing home during COVID.
Stay in Constant Communication
For starters, you have to stay in constant communication with them. If your mother or father is anything like mine, they probably don’t want to be inside of a facility with other elderly people. They’d rather be home in familiar surroundings.
My mother never associated herself with “getting old.” She was the proverbial young-at-heart person. She lived a beautifully glorious life having traveled the world, and it is because of that that being inside the home depressed her to the point she stopped eating—which is my second point.
Make Sure Your Loved One is Eating
You have to make sure they are eating regularly and staying hydrated, as dehydration is a common sign of nursing home neglect, and my mother suffered that as well. Not mentioned here but worth stating is that you have to get along with your family members.