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Families rely on window visits with their senior citizens this Thanksgiving

The Church family visits their grandmother and mother through a window at NHC Fort Oglethorpe. (Image courtesy Sandy Church)

The holidays aren't always easy, especially when you are away from your family.

Senior citizens have had their set of challenges this year, some not being able to see family due to their risk of contracting COVID-19.

Sandy Church's 93-year-old mother Sybil Hix lives at NHC in Fort Oglethorpe. She says the last time she was able to physically be next to her was March.

"It's really heart wrenching," Church said. "My mother says, 'I wish you could come and hold my hand one more time.'"

They've been relying on window visits since March, and Thanksgiving will be no different.

Church says it has been a rough year.

"I remember sitting and holding her hand and you always think, will this be the last time? I remember thinking that in March."

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities across our viewing area are trying to bring the holiday spirit to those who can't see their families in person.

They've had to rely on their staff to step up.

NHC's Lesley Shelton says they've relied on their employees to help out their residents during the holidays.

"They're really keeping spirits up and been a lot of extra engagement with patients and making sure that we're not sort of losing someone due to the circumstances," Shelton said.

Erin Edens with Brookdale Hixson, an assisted living facility, says they're trying to bring their residents together during the holidays. Edens says they've created all sorts of additional activities to help.

Brookdale Hixson resident Evelyn Hodom says the window visits are worth it.

"I have most of my family here. That means a lot to me. There are lots of things that we like to do around the holiday time just like anyone else," Hodom said.

Hodom's father-in-law David Wendt says it helps to visit her, even if it is through a window.

"It gives us that connection if we do that several times a week. It doesn't make her feel like she's on the outside of our family circle," Wendt said.

Sandy Church says things will feel different this year and that although they are used to large gatherings at their home, they still have a lot to be thankful for.

"Stop and give thanks for the blessings they have, because you don't know what the following year will be like," Church said.

The CDC is still advising nursing homes and assisted livings to limit visitation due to the severity of the pandemic.