Family is Thankful for Outdoor Visits

Family is Thankful for Outdoor Visits

Regina Clark holds up a tablet so her siblings can virtually join an outdoor visit with their mom, Myrt McFarland, on Saturday, June 27. Photo by Olivia Kennah

Green River resident, Regina Clark, was beyond excited when she was allowed to visit her mother again without the use of a screen or through a window.

Her mom, Myrt McFarland, has been a resident at Mission at Castle Rock Rehabilitation Center (CRRC) since July 2018. Regina always made sure to visit her mother regularly, but when the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic hit, those visits became very limited.

“It is the toughest thing,” Regina said of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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As soon as long-term care outdoor visits were permitted by Governor Mark Gordon mid-July, and CRRC made arrangements, Regina began scheduling visits with her mom.

Regina said the window visits were good, as being able to see each other in any capacity is cherished, but the the lack of in-person communication and outdoor time for Myrt has been difficult. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Myrt has been moved from the assisted living side of CRRC to the nursing care and rehabilitation side.

Myrt waves to her family, who are visiting with her through a tablet. Photo by Olivia Kennah

Myrt started spending more time in her room and had less activity, and this caused her to lose strength in her legs. After being moved to the rehabilitation facility to regain strength, the doctor diagnosed Myrt with Alzheimer’s disease. To help Myrt keep her memory of family, visits have been important, Regina said.

“She’s doing really well right now, but you just never know,” Regina said.

Though Regina and Myrt must maintain six feet of distance from each other and wear face coverings during the outdoor visits, they have both enjoyed the time together. And Myrt is happy to get out in the sun.

“Being outside has made a world of difference,” Regina said.

“Oh does that ever feel good,” Myrt said while sitting in the sun.

Regina and Myrt talk with family members through a screen during an outdoor visit. Photo by Olivia Kennah

Regina also brings a tablet to the visits so family members who do not live in the area can video chat with Myrt. Myrt has had regular conversations with her other two children as well as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Regina said two things in particular have made the past few months easier to handle, and those are the CRRC staff and Myrt’s calm demeanor and playful sense of humor.

“Mission has been a blessing,” Regina said. “Their staff has been unbelievable and have worked so hard to make this less difficult.”

She added that the staff take care of their residents as family, even referring to Myrt as ‘Grandma Myrt’.

Myrt sits with a CRRC employee during her outdoor visit. Photo by Olivia Kennah

In addition, Regina said her mom’s personality has made the whole situation easier, describing Myrt as calm and someone who “goes with the flow”.

“She has quite the sense of humor still so we have to laugh at her little one liners,” Regina said.

With the uncertainty revolving around this pandemic, Regina is worried about the winter as she doesn’t know what visitation will look like yet. However, she said she will partake in window visits or any other method to see her mother. For now, they are both happy to be able to talk and sit outside together.