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Families with loved ones in long-term care facilities reflect on loneliness, isolation

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TUCSON (KVOA) - State leaders halted visits at long term care facilities in March due to the coronavirus.

For Bob Murray, 72, that meant an abrupt end to precious time spent with his 93-year-old mom, Pauline.

But we’re told a statewide task force is getting closer to releasing recommendations for those long-awaited reunions.

“What she says is she misses being able to hug me and seeing people,” Murray said.

For more than a year Pauline has lived at Sierra Del Sol Senior Living.

Before the virus, most of her social life revolved around going down to the dining room to eat. Now, her meals are delivered to her room.

“I miss my son,” she said.

Bob talks to his mom on the phone every night. The calls are comforting but never easy.

“Even before the COVID virus was a problem. I called her every day,” he said. “It’s really tough on both of us. Sometimes, I hang up the phone, I’m just sad, I’m depressed because I can tell that my mom is that way.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called a task force together to come up with safety guidelines to allow family members to visit loved ones at long term care facilities again.

According to AARP Arizona, one of the guidelines calls for family members to get tested for the virus. They would be able to request an in-person visit after the test comes back negative.

The family members then must self-isolate for 48 hours before the visit.

Bob’s all in.

“I’m going to give her the biggest hug and kiss and just hold onto her,” he said tearing up. “It’s been really hard. It’s really indescribable. You know my dad has passed away 26 years. My mom is all I have left.”

The guidelines to resume long-term care facility visits have not yet been made public.

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Eric Fink

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