Wife becomes dishwasher at nursing home to see husband with Alzheimer’s during COVID-19 pandemic


What would you do for someone you love?

For 114 days, Mary Shannon Daniel wasn’t able to hug her husband. She had to see him through a window, like many with loved ones in nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her other half, Steve, is living in the memory care unit of a nursing home and has early onset Alzheimer’s, according to First Coast News. No visitors have been allowed in the nursing home, per orders from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in order to stop transmission of the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

“I told him I’d be there with him, holding his hand,” she told the broadcast station. “We tried a window visit. He just cried. You can’t explain it to him.”

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With no options left that complied with pandemic regulations, Daniel was at a loss — but her husband’s nursing facility had an idea and offered her a job as a dishwasher.

“I appreciate the opportunity,” she said of the job.

In a heartwarming post to her Facebook page, Daniel shared a photo of her washing dishes and another of her standing by Steve.

“After 114 days, I got to hug my husband today,” she wrote. “I also washed a lot of dishes. Proof where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Though she was worried her husband wouldn’t recognize her after so much time apart, the opposite proved true.

“He was teary-eyed,” she told First Coast News. “He touched my face, even with my mask on … He knew me. He called me Mary.”

But not all families have been so lucky. With a new executive order in the state adding another 60 days to a ban on visiting nursing homes, some families are going on months without seeing their loved ones.

To help out, Daniel built a virtual support group on Facebook called “Caregivers for Compromise — because isolation kills too!”

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Many have taken to the group to share their sadness and frustration over not being able to see their family members.

“My mom has been in a nursing facility after a massive stroke for 14 years, and I visit her every day,” one person wrote in the group. “I tried one time to sit at her window, and it honestly made the situation worse. Her short-term memory is not good, and every day we repeat the same story about why I haven’t been there to see her.”

Another wrote: “I placed my husband Dennis in memory care in October. He had Alzheimer’s disease. Quarantining was a disaster for him. My kind and loving husband became very agitated and aggressive and declined rapidly.”

Some members of the group voiced a desire for homes to create visitation areas with plexiglass to make things easier for families.


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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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