Jack Campise talks with his mother, Beverly Kearns, through her apartment window at the Kimberly Hall North nursing home, Thursday, May 14, 2020 in Windsor, Conn. The coronavirus has had no regard for health care quality or ratings as it has swept through nursing homes around the world, killing efficiently even in highly rated care centers. Preliminary research indicates the numbers of nursing home residents testing positive for the coronavirus and dying from COVID-19 are linked to location and population density — not care quality ratings. Credit: Chris Ehrmann | AP

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This is a story of my mom and I during this COVID 19 pandemic. People may ask, what makes this story so different? That is exactly why I am writing it, because it isn’t. There are hundreds if not thousands that are experiencing the same thing as we are. I am encouraging people to reach out for help and assistance.

In January and February, I would take my mom out three or four times a week to stores, just to browse and shop. Her favorite day would be when she got her hair done and then come down for supper, and top it off with several hands of gin rummy (which she won most of the time).

Then March 12 came. I started working from home, had very limited visits to her apartment, and social distancing, masks and gloves became our new normal. My mom has severe dementia and hearing loss, among other things, so trying to explain what was happening outside her apartment, why I was not able to take her out, unable to visit and why I now wear a mask and gloves, is beyond her comprehension.

In March I saw her twice; to fill her medication box and to stock up on food. She had a worker who would go in and help her two hours a day to keep things normal. She didn’t understand, she started to feel abandoned, frustrated, lost, alone, and scared. My mom started to withdraw. She sat in her chair, ate and drank less and less, failed to take care of her own personal needs and slept more. She gave up.

My mom has been in the hospital twice since April, has lost strength in her legs, has lost over 10 pounds. Her dementia has intensified dramatically, and she has gone from home-based care to long-term care and facing placement. She has given up.

If you find yourself in a situation which seems overwhelming, reach out. I did. I reached out to the Agency on Aging for help and received information, help, guidance, empathy and so much more. I encourage you to do the same. They have a wealth of information and compassion.

The Aroostook Agency on Aging has the answers. Their job is serving the elderly population. They do it and do it well, with grace, caring, years of experience, and they have a wealth of knowledge and resources. Some of the programs the agency offers are a Family Caregiver Program, Savvy Caregiver, elder care services, tai chi, Money Minders, RSVP, which includes a friendly visitor or caller, home delivered meals, and much more.

I encourage people to hold their loved one’s hand, give them a hug, kiss their cheek and say “Love you more,” because I can’t.

Ruth White of Presque Isle is a counselor.