Connecting with senior members during COVID-19

Struggles of connecting during COVID

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The coronavirus has affected people everywhere, changing the way families communicate with loved ones.

Seniors in nursing homes have had to communicate through a glass window, but even that is becoming more of a challenge for some people.

At Stonebridge Place in Sulphur, the glass barrier has been more like a brick wall for the LaFleur family.

Since the pandemic, Greg LaFleur has been having conversations with his father-in-law through a window.

“I holler really loud and then I press my ear all the way to the window or to the AC unit and I catch the voice through the AC unit so it’s difficult,” LaFleur said. “It’s very difficult.”

They used to see each other in person at least once a week.

“I would stop in and drop off groceries to him,” LaFleur said. “Visit with him, come while he’s eating breakfast, so that’s 2 to three times a week for my family, and my wife’s sisters would come also two, three times a week, so every day pretty much he would see somebody.”

LaFleur’s father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago. For the first time in several weeks, LaFleur was recognized by his father-in-law.

Executive Director Ashlee Guidry said about 30 of their 75 residents at Stonebridge Place have memory disorders.

“We have the ability to either do FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger - we’ve utilized a lot of different applications for the families to see them,” Guidry said. “We’re trying our best to be there for them but it’s not the same as family.”

For LaFleur, the hardest part is seeing his father-in-law’s disappointment at a distance as the pandemic progresses.

“He just wants to see us and spend time with us and now we can’t do that,” LaFleur said. “Seeing his disappointment in his eyes and seeing [him] not totally understanding the total aspect of what’s going on?” LaFleur said. “It’s very sad.”

Guidry said Stonebridge Place is under the directive of the Louisiana Department of Health and with the rise in cases, there is no indication that they’ll connect in person anytime soon.

Copyright 2020 KPLC. All rights reserved.