SPECIAL REPORT: The pandemic is causing those in assisted living facilities to feel isolated


BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — COVID-19 is posing a serious threat to the elderly, the most isolated segment of our population and social distancing only aggravates that more.

Seniors in local assisted living facilities said separation from family members has been difficult. 

The restrictions are everywhere. From traveling to shopping, and standing apart in public. But for some local residents, the guidelines are even more rigorous.

“We are not allowed outside,” said Lynda Hoolihan a senior resident at Beehive Homes of Lynn Haven. “I am amazed they allowed me to sit here.”

Because of COVID-19, Hoolihan has not been able to leave the facility to visit family.

“I am looking forward to all this garbage going away so I can go home,” said Hoolihan.

Home to Hoolihan is where her family is, who she misses very much. 

“I miss my children and my grandchildren,” said Hoolihan. “But they call me on the phone so I have that connection.”

The last time Hoolihan saw her family was over three months ago, and she has not been able to leave her residence since, not even to go for a walk outside.

 “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Hoolihan.

Time outside may not be an option for residents like Lynda, but there are a few options.

“We do activities,” said Jessica Bushinski, the Beehive Homes Medical Technician. “We try to liven them up as much as we can, but they are more secluded.”

After spending each day with the 16 residents, she said it is sometimes hard to leave them at the end of her shift.

“You get to know them, you get to hear their stories, and you get very close with them,” said Bushinski. “It’s like they are my family.”

“The people that work here are so nice, they really are,” said Hoolihan.

Although she is not happy about the restrictions, Hoolihan admits the extra precautions have apparently helped.

“I have no idea how lucky we have been,” said Hoolihan. “We have been very lucky, I don’t think anybody in here has had it. Maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud.”

Hoolihan said she tries to remember one important thing, every day when she is feeling out of control.

“God takes you any way he wants you,” said Hoolihan. “I have to keep telling myself that, otherwise I come apart.”

Her family, as well as many others at the Beehive Homes, can now come into the building to visit as long as they are seated six feet apart and have a negative COVID-19 test from the past two weeks. 

But most are waiting for the day when life gets back to normal.

“I am definitely looking forward to seeing them with their families and things like that,” said Bushinski.

People like Panama City resident Bill Padgett have to set their own restrictions.

“At my age, I do not need to be out,” said Padgett.

Padgett and his wife live on their own in Panama City, but get meal assistance from the Bay County Council on Aging. Padgett said they used to have an active life.

“Well before we were not restricted in any manner, we traveled a lot,” said Padgett.

He said he can not wait for the day they can travel once more.

“Yes it’s hard, I miss it,” said Padgett.

Just like Padgett, Hoolihan, and many other seniors in our community, they are ready for the day when their freedoms are regained from COVID’s limitations — so they can see and interact with their families again.

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