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Sask. seniors, families hoping for brighter future with COVID-19 restrictions easing

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WATCH: People with loved ones in long term-care and personal care homes say they are glad to see restrictions easing, however they also fear the long-term effects of isolation on vulnerable family members, – Jun 20, 2021

Seniors in long-term and personal care homes are among the cohort that has been the most isolated during the global pandemic.

It’s a situation that is about to get better now that Step 2 of Saskatchewan’s reopening road map allows residents to have up to four visitors indoors and nine outdoors — a much-needed change, according to loved ones.

“None of her grandkids or great-grandkids have been able to go visit her,” Wendy Fields said.

“So, that’s just great that they can go visit her in her room shortly I guess, they’ve been able to visit her outside,” Fields added.

Read more: COVID-19: Saskatchewan to remove all public health restrictions as of July 11

Field’s 79-year-old mother, Karen Bracken, is in an LTC home in Regina and says when her mother sees family members, her face lights up instantly.

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The increase in visitors is allowed for both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents.

Residents and visitors will still need to take precautionary measures, such as masking and physical distancing.

Although those with loved ones in homes are glad to hear the news, they also say the long-term mental, emotional and even physical impacts of the restrictions will be long-lasting.

“He has Alzheimer’s, so looking through a window, or Facetime-ing with him with an iPad did not work,” Lindsay Vindevoghel explained.

“He can’t talk, he can’t really see, he wasn’t really understanding Facetime and looking at the video,” she added.

Read more: COVID-19: Saskatchewan launches Step 2 reopen plan

Vindevoghel’s 77-year-old dad, C.B. Wilson, also lost his ability to walk over the pandemic since her mom wasn’t allowed to visit in-person to go on walks with him to help him exercise.

Her dad has been in the facility for seven years now — he was a school principal before his health began to deteriorate.

But the family is optimistic they can help him learn to walk again with the help of muscle memory once he moves to a different long-term care home in the city in the near future. The new facility also won’t require the family to book appointments in order to see him.

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Sinai Health’s director of geriatrics in Toronto, Dr. Samir Sinha, says these reopening measures are long overdue.

“Prior to this measure, Saskatchewan had some of the most restrictive measures in the country, where they were only allowing visits to occur, for example, if only 90 per cent of the residents had been vaccinated,” Sinha stated.

Step 3 of the province’s reopening plan will see most of the remaining restrictions lifted.

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