Deaths of despair: How some nursing homes are fighting loneliness
Isolation is having a profound effect on the residents of Michigan’s nursing homes. Lack of visitation is leading to poor health and even death among this already vulnerable population.
Even though new cases of the virus are in decline, skilled nursing homes are reticent to resume visits. However, some facilities are getting creative – finding other ways to provide a sense of connection and community among their residents.
At the Alamo Nursing Home near Kalamazoo, the son of a resident constructed outdoor shelters for visitors. That allows family to keep out of the cold and snow as they talk to their loved ones through a closed window.
Some facilities have experimented with hiring special employees to engage with isolated residents. Others have set up elaborate “hugging stations” with residents protected by plastic sheeting.
None of the efforts are a perfect solution to the problems afflicting the state’s most vulnerable residents, but they are helping to return a little normalcy in an untenable situation.
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