Last Thursday (Oct.8) I was having a conversation with someone in the community, and as is most often the case (especially if I have any kind of connection to them), I asked him how his family was doing.

While he offered the typical response, when I queried a little further about his folks I learned that his dad, as well as his dad’s siblings, have had their hands full taking care of their dad.

After living in a long-term care facility during the recent pandemic, the siblings opted to take their dad back out of that situation and to care for him themselves.

I did not get the impression that they were really all that dissatisfied with the care their dad was receiving.

Rather, they were concerned with the rules and regulations related to COVID-19 that had dramatically reduced the amount of person-to-person contact they were experiencing with him.

I have heard plenty of stories about how people have been disconnected from their loved one due to state protocols.

As he talked about the family’s experience, I commented that I was surprised that more people were not doing the same thing.

Then came the education.

Caring for an elderly loved one is a lot of hard work, he told me, adding it means 24 hour care.

In that moment, I gained an increased level of respect not only for those families who have made the decision to care for their mom, dad, grandparent or other loved one, but that level of respect was also elevated for those who are serving in that role within those long-term care facilities.

I had not thought that much about what that experience has been like for them.

These people, who work in a setting like this because they enjoy interacting with the elderly population have also had their interactions with those folks dramatically reduced.

They are the ones who are not allowed to connect with people who often don’t understand why the person who would often stop by to just say “hi” or who spent a few more moments in their room talking about the weather, the crops or the latest photos of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are not doing that anymore.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to work in a setting where the people you serve are considered extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, and then to see them suffer alone when they are diagnosed with that virus.

When I was a kid, my mom would often take me and my siblings to the local “nursing home” to visit with people she knew who were residing there, especially those who did not have family in the community.

I never really enjoyed that, because I would often get in trouble for touching something I was not supposed to touch – “those buttons are not toys,” I would often hear.

When this whole thing tides over and there is a chance for me to do so, I am going to start visiting those folks and thanking their caregivers more often.