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Nursing homes, assisted-living facilities finally able to ease back on COVID restrictions, including visitation policies

After patiently waiting while watching the rest of the world slowly reopen, Governor Mike DeWine is now encouraging nursing homes to welcome visitors back inside.

TOLEDO, Ohio — "Withdrawn."

That's how Betty Almester, a resident at Glendale Assisted Living, said she felt while being isolated during the COVID-19, and she isn't alone.

Jodi Kimball with Glendale says she's noticed her residents have changed quite a bit. Many of them now require more assistance due to isolation.

"More assistance with their social lives, assistance physically because they have been restricted in their movement throughout the facility and the community," said Kimball.

Kimball adds more residents are now using wheelchairs, when before they were able to rely on walkers. However, she said there are things that can be done to help our loved ones ease back into normalcy.

"We have to build those things back up and remind them that they can come back out and be part of society again," said Kimball.

Between staying in their rooms and isolating from friends and peers, Kimball says she hopes these restrictions being lifted will really help things turn around.

She said keeping residents busy with activities all day long also helps.

"We'll set up an area in the living where we can do trivia and activities where they're engaging with each other," said Kimball.

The biggest thing Kimball wants to see is her residents be engaged with the world. "We want to see them participating in things. You know come out, be part of their lives again," said Kimball.

Now that things are starting to look up, Almester said it feels wonderful.

"I'm glad to see people. I'm glad to not have to wear a mask. It's good to see the children come through," said Almester.

"We're going to be able to see families in the buildings, we're going to see kids in the buildings. We haven't had kids in the building for a year," said Kimball.

Communal dining is also back again, something Kimball says is important for residents to help rebuild their socialization skills.

"Everybody gets to go down and see all their friends at the dining room for three meals a day, so that's a nice change. That was a big help for getting over the isolation hump," said Kimball.

She said that while things are going back to normal, Glendale specifically is still waiting to hear from state officials before dropping some other safety protocols.

"As of right now, we do not have clarifications from the Ohio Department of Aging on the masks and the screening. So at this point, they are still doing them," she said.

Kimball said Glendale is expecting to get clearer details this week. Governor DeWine says COVID-19 testing will still be required twice a week for un-vaccinated nursing home employees.