Helen Weninger’s mom, Tena, recently celebrated her 90th birthday.
Tena lives in a care home in Warman, Sask. just north of Saskatoon. Weninger said her mom’s health has deteriorated over the last year, especially her mental health.
“She’s really depressed. It’s heartbreaking. She’s just feeling very alone,” Weninger said.
A study completed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that compared to pre-pandemic years, long-term care home residents had fewer visits with family and friends in the first half of the pandemic, which was associated with higher rates of depression.
“We haven’t been able to visit her. I haven’t been there for several months,” Weninger said.
She said she wishes the health authority and government would take a second look at the health and wellbeing of seniors.
Some experts say isolation is taking a toll on the mental health of Sask. seniors
Weninger does call her mom, but she said she struggles talking on the phone or using FaceTime. Weninger said her mother would benefit more from face-to-face visits with family members.
“We’re just never going to get that time back and we really just would like to just even sit with her there. Their years, their days. their months are numbered. So it’s very important.”
Weninger said her mother has “excellent care” at the home she is in but staff don’t have the time to sit down with Tena and read with her. She wishes she and her family members could sit with Tena and read to her or just spend time together.
Tena received her second COVID-19 vaccine dose in early February.
Weninger said she was previously allowed to see her mom outside with full PPE. She said now there is only one designated visitor allowed at her mom’s care home and that visitor can’t switch out with other family members or friends.
That visitor can see Tena once a week for one hour.
According to provincial guidelines, one healthy person is allowed to visit for compassionate reasons.
“That’s not enough. Their days are long. They just sit a lot of them, and especially my mother, she doesn’t read, she doesn’t watch TV and they just sit there all by themselves.”
Weninger said there is a board room at her mom’s care home where she thinks she could visit with her mom from a distance and wear full PPE if the weather isn’t nice outside. She said she’s also willing to take a COVID-19 test before seeing her mom.
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