SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A group of concerned Illinois residents rallied outside the Capitol Friday to bring attention to their loved ones isolated in nursing homes and longterm care facilities.
The Caregivers for Compromise are concerned that visiting opportunities remain limited. They say it’s heartbreaking to have family members suffering alone. State Representatives Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) and Chuck Meier (R-Okawville) joined the group to call for a safe and reasonable reopening of facilities for families to visit their loved ones.
“Think about somebody in your family you’ve known with Alzheimer’s. Think about how much they’ve lost in seven months,” Meier said. “And you’ve not got to be there to help them, to comfort them, to remind them of their family members, to remind them of their wedding and their birthday.”
Rally organizers stressed seniors should never feel like they’re in prison.
“It comes down to the end,” said Carrie Leljedal. “Are we keeping them alive to say they’re alive, or are we giving them quality of life. Cause without quality of life, there’s no reason to have any quantity.”
The group isn’t blaming staff at nursing homes or long-term care facilities watching over their family members. However, they are concerned those employees get to go in and out of the buildings without quarantine.
Visits that mean so much more
Julie Lewis moved her father to Quincy’s Cedarhurst Memory Care in July.
“He was used to seeing me frequently and now we get to see each other through a window,” Lewis said. “He has lost weight and is moving much slower now.”
Her father-in-law has been at the Good Samaritan Home of Quincy since 2015. Julie’s husband was finally able to schedule an outdoor visit for October. Sadly, this is the first time they can see each other in person since mid-March.
Families are also worried those opportunities will be cut off with the colder seasons ahead.
“They think everybody abandoned them,” Leljedal explained. “They’re dying of malnourishment, they’re dying of failure to thrive because they have no reason to live at this point.”
Leljedal’s son currently stays in a long-term care facility, but he also struggling with a feeding tube, Diabetes, glaucoma, and a rare seizure disorder. She said many patients may need five doses of medicine per day like her son.
“A lot of days, it takes two people to get him in and out of a shower if he’s having a bad day,” she added. “I would kill to bring my son home.”