“My Nonna (grandmother) has been a constant source of love and admiration in my life. The last few years have been particularly challenging as she loses her independence to dementia. Recently, our family made the excruciating decision to move her into a nursing home. When the pandemic started, one resident in her home tested positive for COVID-19. As the weeks went on, COVID-19 spread like wildfire, infecting 81 residents and 37 staff members. My Nonna remained stuck in her room throughout it all. Even as I write this, it pains me to think about her confusion.
I have always had a knack for explaining things, but there’s no book for explaining an unprecedented pandemic to an 86 year old woman with dementia over FaceTime.
Although I’m on the front lines, my real fear is not for me – it’s for her.
I don’t doubt that the workers in her nursing home had the best of intentions. Low wages, over staffing, and having workers move from home to home were small fractures that broke the camel’s back. The result was long term care homes accounting for over 80% of COVID related deaths in Canada. This outcome was not due to one person, one policy or one government, but rather a culmination in the way that we see our elders over time.
As I look forward on the post-COVID-19 horizon, I hope that we revolutionize the way we value our senior citizens and treat them with the respect they’ve earned as builders of our society.
In the meantime, my Nonna remains with me on every shift – with the hope of feeling her hug at least one more time.”