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'I can't hug him': Kamloops woman seeks more than short, weekly visit with husband in care home

Last Updated Nov 3, 2020 at 3:16 pm PST

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Summary

Tracey Pointer was kept from seeing her husband of nearly 40 years between March and July, now she has 30 minutes a week

Pointer hopes the situation changes soon, noting COVID-19 cases in Kamloops are lower than other places in B.C.

Pointer says her husband's condition has worsened during the pandemic

KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) — For months, Tracey Pointer hasn’t been able to hold her husband of 40 years during their brief weekly visits in his long-term care home, and she doesn’t want to wait much longer for this to change.

“I can’t touch him, I can’t hug him, I can’t hold his hand, and that bloody nearly kills me,” she tells NEWS 1130.

For thirty minutes at 10:30 a.m. Friday mornings she has been able to visit her husband, Reg. He has dementia and has been living in Ponderosa Lodge for about a year and a half.

RELATED: Seniors advocate calls for increased visits at B.C. care homes

Since the pandemic started, Pointer says her husband’s condition has worsened.

“The cure is worse than the disease,” she says. “He’s just completely disconnecting from me, and you can see he is just trying to say something. Then a few words come out and it just sort of fades, so you nod and smile and carry on and you just do the best you can.”

She says Reg is often sleeping when she comes for her half-hour visits, shortening their time together even more.

Report suggests pandemic visitation rules could change

A new provincial report offers some hope the visitation restrictions Pointer is facing could be modified.

 

In a report released Tuesday, Isobel Mackenzie, the province’s seniors advocate, found more people would rather get COVID-19 than be alone. In response, she has made recommendations, including more visits, though she notes the risk of the virus getting into care homes increases.


Months apart, alone

The couple wasn’t able to see each other between March and July due to COVID-19 restrictions on visits in long-term care homes, but when Pointer first saw her husband again, it seemed to make a difference with Reg.

“The first time he saw me, he looked at me and said, ‘I sure love you,’ and, of course, I just fell on the floor,” she says. “But that’s about the only sense he’s made. He didn’t make much sense before, but he’s really, really disconnecting now.”

RELATED: Visitors allowed back in B.C. long-term care homes

The ongoing restrictions to visits are frustrating for her, Pointer says, especially since Kamloops only has a handful of active cases.

She also points out she is on her own most of the time and her bubble is small, “so I don’t know why I can’t hang out with him more.”

Pointer says she lives near the care home and used to walk over for lunch often.

The seniors advocate says she hopes changes to visits could be brought in as early as next week.

-With files from Jonathan Szekeres and Mike Hall