“This isn’t care, this is torture.”
Those were some of the last words Michelle Woolman spoke in the presence of her dying mother, Jaqueline Woolman, as she and her two siblings served her water from a sponge after being told by nursing home staff that their mother had refused water, and therefore hadn’t had any for two days.
Jaqueline’s body was tired. Although her children lovingly stood by her side to let her know it was okay to let go, they were angry. Angry because they were being robbed not only of future moments with their mother, but also of a dignified goodbye, especially since the government mandated new normal means that many elderly in care homes are isolated from loved ones.
Fear of COVID-19 has brought us as a society to turn a blind eye on many inhumane restrictions. While it’s true we have to protect those who are most at risk from the virus, isolation from their loved ones in their last days is causing more harm than good to many.
A large study on elderly residing in a live-in care agency found an increase in loneliness since the great lockdown. Twenty per cent of those over the age of 70 spoke to their family less, and 40 per cent hadn’t left their home for months.
An Ontario woman in her 90s found the isolation so unbearable that she opted to end her life through medical assistance in dying, rather than go through any more social isolation.
As you’ll see in this interview with Kimberly Woolman, another one of the late Jacqueline Woolman’s adult children, Jacqueline also struggled with being forced to isolate from her children in her last days. Even the Zoom meetings that she found some solace in were forbidden at times, causing distress for the whole family.
You can watch my interview here.
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