Fighting depression in nursing home, assisted living residents amid pandemic, holiday isolation


(WTNH) — Loneliness is happening more and more in nursing homes and assisted living facilities as we hit another wave of COVID-19. It’s now coming to light after talks with The Nursing Home and Assisted Living Oversight Working Group subcommittee.

A new Yale study says a phone call to a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility can boost spirits and loneliness.

While that may be true, many are yearning for physical and social interaction.

“I was able to go by a back door that was all glass so that I could sit and she could stand behind me with the baby and we can get a picture…((cries)) sorry,” explained Jeannette Sullivan-Martinez.

Sullivan-Martinez is a nursing home resident who spoke with The Nursing Home and Assisted Living Oversight Working Group subcommittee Monday about how she saw her grandchild for the first time.

Her story is similar to so many others.

During this second wave of the coronavirus, most facilities residents are not able to interact with one another for fear of spreading the virus. They are not eating in dining rooms together and they are unable to see their friends.

Some homes have had to reduce staffing, leading to longer wait times for residents to start their days. Residents have also reported weight loss or weight gain. The concerns prompted some changes this holiday season.

The federal government has directed that nursing homes that are free of positive COVID-19 cases for the previous 14 days be open for in-person visitation.

In the meantime, some safe ways to support those family members in nursing homes during the holidays:

  • Drop off a meal for them to enjoy
  • Visit your loved one at their residence in any capacity (in-person, through a glass window, 6-feet apart outside)
  • Bring a favorite Thanksgiving food or a holiday treat
  • Use disposable items if you are visiting your loved one

It is advised you protect yourself if visiting a loved one at a facility by wearing your mask and keeping a safe social distance. These types of arrangements should be worked out in advance.

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