‘I pray that something changes’: Somerset woman hopes loved ones in nursing homes don’t feel forgotten

SE Mass

SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — After months apart, families are slowly beginning to reunite with their loved ones in nursing homes across Massachusetts.

But even so, Somerset resident Bridget Monteiro said many of the state’s most vulnerable population remain isolated for safety’s sake, including her mother.

“I pray that something changes. I just pray that something changes in the big picture,” she said. “Let’s just not throw them away. They’re not just, ‘eh they’ve lived their lives.’ I’ve heard that. Growing old is a privilege. That’s a privilege that many are not given.”

As of Friday, there were 5,051 probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities in Massachusetts and more than 23,000 of their caregivers became sick.

Monteiro speaks the world of her mother’s caregivers, but admitted that not being able to see her doesn’t make it any easier.

“We need to honor our elderly population. We need to,” she said. “We need to do something about that. Let them know that we still think about them, even when we haven’t seen them for months. It’s heartbreaking for me as her only child and daughter, and I sit here and say am I ever going to see her again. And that’s a horrible way to set in your heart.”

The last time Monteiro was able to see her mom in-person was in mid-March for her 88th birthday.

She said once the pandemic hit and she could no longer visit her mother, she began talking to her daily by phone, until she ended up testing positive for COVID-19.

“They had a COVID unit, which was smart, and she was being moved downstairs,” Bridget recalled. “I was worried sick about many things, taking her out of her element, leaving her room. I couldn’t call her anymore.”

Monteiro’s mother survived, but she said they still aren’t able to talk as much on the phone as much as they used to.

“I’ll be honest, she’s not calling me anymore,” Monteiro said. “She hasn’t and I’m just hoping it’s just the effects of the virus.”

Monteiro said she recently had the opportunity to see her mom during an outdoor visit on the nursing home’s front lawn. While she was concerned the visit might further impact her mother’s dementia, she knew she had to see her.

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