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Weighing what to do with relatives in senior care during COVID-19 spike

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-05 16:33:55-05

LAKEWOOD, Colo — For many families in Colorado, the decision is a difficult one. Cases of the novel coronavirus are spiking, while at the same time many have gone months without being able to see (or hug) their relatives in nursing homes or senior care.

“I can’t hug my mom. I cant touch my mom,” Georganne Zeiger told Denver7.

Zeiger’s mom, Gloria, had been living in an assisted living facility for three years. She is 89 and has dementia, which has made the last seven months even more difficult on both of them.

“There are window visits or you can FaceTime or Skype,” Zeiger said, adding that she believes that isn’t enough for seniors.

The state shut down visitation to all nursing homes during the first wave of the pandemic. Since then, some have become loosened, but several facilities have had to re-tighten rules following positive tests.

Zeiger had to balance the rising number of COVID-19 cases with what she perceived as her mom’s physical and emotional needs. She called the decision "extremely difficult," but she ultimately decided to move her mom from an assisted living facility, to an independent living facility, which has fewer restrictions.

“I can be there whenever I want, I can touch my mom, I can hold my mom,” she said.

Zeiger added that she had to hire a caretaker and take on the weight of any additional risk that visiting her mom might bring. But she says, it was worth it to her to be able to exchange a hug again.

“I want to be with her every second that I have with her. I want to cherish every second,” she said. “And give her the best life that she can have with whatever time she has left.”

On Friday, during her move from one facility to another, Georganne and Gloria were able to hug each other for the first time in seven months.