The Collateral Damage Caused by COVID-19
By Greg Stamm, Esq.
At some point last year, I stopped counting the number of non-Covid deaths my clients suffered during the pandemic. Nevertheless, about a year after lockdowns and visiting restrictions were first imposed for those in congregate care, the tally of calls I was receiving to advise me that mom or dad had passed away, and not from Covid, had surpassed a number my mind could comprehend.
It is tragic enough to comprehend the COVID-related deaths that occurred in these facilities that are home to our infirmed seniors, without contemplating the possibility that many non-COVID deaths were simply due to the fear and loneliness wrought by necessary COVID restrictions. Will
we ever know how many older people felt abandoned by their loved ones who no longer visited them? How many lost their will to live as a result? What went through mom’s mind when her son or daughter no longer arrived for a visit, or stood outside blowing kisses through a closed window?
Not only were restrictions imposed on visitors as a result of COVID, but residents were also restricted to their rooms behind closed doors for months at a time. They ate their meals alone in their rooms, separated from fellow residents who had become their friends. Safety protocols meant that routine activities were suspended, along with exercise programs, outside entertainment, and visits from clergy. The beautician was nowhere to be found. And, in the midst of it all, many learned that a friend they used to play card games with had passed away.
When I was a young man, it was common for children to have their parents move in with them, rather than being placed in a facility. Perhaps we will see a return to that practice as we envision the possibility of a more compassionate, better quality, and less isolated life for those we love, but who need our help.
Many readers will remember a now deceased former Congressman from Buffalo who ran for Vice President of the United States. The Honorable Jack Kemp, a star quarterback, long before the Jim Kelly or Josh Allen era, proposed to his fellow members of Congress that we adopt a sizable tax credit for those who assume responsibility for caring for a loved one at home, rather than in a nursing facility. Perhaps we should revisit that possibility as the cost of a nursing home bed approaches $15,000.00 per month.
COVID-19 has taught us much about how we might live our lives in the future. Let’s hope that one of the things we learned and can now imagine, are kinder, more compassionate ways to care for the elderly.
Greg Stamm is the founder of the Stamm Law firm, and together with his sons Brad and Brian, and a talented team of younger lawyers, focus their practice on estate planning, wills/trusts, and asset protection for the elderly. They also advise clients regarding Medicare and Medicaid law to help them achieve their wishes regarding their assets. Learn more at www.StammLaw.com, or call 716-631-5767 to make an appointment.