The frustrations of enforced separation

The frustrations of enforced separation

Author: Philippa Thompson

As the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be felt, we are now able to enjoy seeing our loved ones - but how has the extended separation impacted us all? In this article we look at how the enforced separation has affected families who have been forced apart for months on end.

The frustrations of enforced separation

In March 2020 the UK, along with much of the rest of the world, was forced into sudden and almost total lockdown. With little warning families were stopped from seeing loved ones, care homes shut their doors to visitors and life, as we were accustomed to, paused. Over the ensuing months, we found new ways to socialise, operate business and create a semblance of normality. But one thing that has only very recently begun to change, is being able to visit friends or relatives who are elderly or suffer from underlying health conditions that made them even more vulnerable to Covid-19.

This article was inspired by the conversations we have had with our own relatives as well as relatives of residents at The Dower House.

How the pandemic has affected the elderly

The impact of the pandemic on the health of older people has been widely reported over the last year and, perhaps more than any other single document, this report produced in late 2020 by Age UK has evidenced the extent to which older people have suffered.

There has been an impact on mobility and fitness of older people which in turn impacts their ability to live independently and increases their risk of falls. There is evidence that malnutrition has increased owing to less help being available for the preparation of meals as well as the loss of appetite that comes with conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Malnutrition and dehydration have a knock-on impact on a range of health conditions - both pre-existing and newly emerging. Dementia sufferers have been observed to have deteriorated more rapidly. Cognitive decline has increased. There has been an increase in self neglect, anxiety, loss of confidence, loneliness, sadly the list goes on.

The impact on families

For families and loved ones who have been forced to make do with seeing their older relatives or friends on video calls, through windows or just speaking to them on the phone, the impact has been just as testing.

We’ve heard first-hand the frustration relatives have felt at not being able to visit their loved ones. The heartbreak at not being able to spend time with ageing parents who were admitted to hospital. The guilt when they have felt at seeing their loved ones health deteriorate and being unable to pro-actively advocate for them as they would prior to the pandemic. The helplessness of being unable to provide emotional or practical care and support to loved ones living alone.

The joy at the prospect of being able to reunite as the vaccination programme rolled out, to then be in fear of the impact of emerging variants.

For anyone with elderly friends or family members, it has been an extended period of immense stress, frustration and guilt. And there can be little doubt that this will have longer lasting effects on the health and wellbeing of many.

The importance of self-care

Extended periods of stress, such as we are all living under, have many detrimental effects on our overall health and wellbeing. Immune systems become weakened and our mental resilience reduces.

Whilst you may experience one, some, or many of the negative emotions detailed above, it’s important to take time to take care of your own wellbeing.

At The Dower House we regularly talk to relatives about the importance of being kind and forgiving to themselves and of recognising that absences weren’t neglectful, uncaring or unloving.

You have been through an unprecedented time and forced to follow some of the most heartbreaking rules in order to keep the people you love the most safe.

Life at The Dower House

Life at The Dower House will continue to change in line with local and national guidance, in addition to events within the home. We continue to regularly review our procedures with regards to visits in and away from the home and our residents are enjoying the reintroduction of some of our former activities. We are also delighted to be welcoming new residents to our home.

If you are researching options for residential care, and would like to find out more about life at The Dower House, simply call 01962 882848 or visit our website to take a virtual* tour of the home and grounds.

*At the time of writing, the UK was in the process of lifting Covid-19 restrictions, including rules on visiting residents in care homes. We will resume full tours and unrestricted visits in due course and as appropriate to protecting the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff.

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