HENDRICKS CO. — Eight months. That’s how long 61-year-old Tim Hession has gone without hugging a member of his family, or anyone for that matter.
Hession, who had a severe stroke several years ago, has been living at Brooke Knoll Village Health & Rehabilitation Center.
“His stroke was very severe, it’s severely affected his speech, he’s wheelchair bound, his eating… all of that has been severely affected,” said Sarah Gardner, Hession’s daughter.
Since the pandemic his family has had limited time with him because of COVID-19 restrictions at the facility. “We were having limited visits 30 minutes once a week. But even that we weren’t getting weekly sometimes we were going two or three weeks without even seeing him,” said Gardner.
And when they visited, they had to stay six feet away with four people allowed at a time. The visits were 30-minutes long and children were not allowed. “So he wasn’t able to see his grandkids,” said Gardner.
Hession’s children noticed a toll the seclusion was starting to take on their dad. Gardner says his speech was declining because he was no longer getting therapy, his strength and mental health was also diminishing along with his appetite. Hession lost 35 pounds while in quarantine.
After months of watching his physical and mental health decline, his family made a decision. “We just had to do this or we were going to lose him,” said Gardner.
Last month, they moved him out of the assisted living home and into his own apartment located in a 55- and-older community in Brownsburg.
Hession is paying for the place with his social security disability monthly check. He also has a caregiver who comes for 12-hours a day through Medicaid. The overnight shift of caring for him is currently being covered by family members. Gardner says she, her brothers and her aunt take turns staying the night so they can help Hession with whatever he needs.
Gardner says he’s already progressed and improved physically and emotionally. “He’s already progressing even just physically I can tell when I transfer him and do things, he’s doing more, I’m doing way less and it’s only been three weeks. It’s incredible,” said Gardner.
The choice to take him out of a quarantine situation where he was safe from COVID-19 wasn’t an easy one for the family. They weighed the options for a long time. But Gardner says they felt this was what was best for him in the long run.
“I felt that extreme amount of pressure, we have to keep him safe and we have to be prepared for if he does get sick and say the worst happens… we have to be OK with knowing that we did what was best for him and we all have to be OK with that. We’re coming in and out, family is coming in and out. The risk of him getting sick versus living a life, we were all like this is what’s best for him,” said Gardner.
Gardner says her family has learned some very important lessons from COVID-19. The importance of having hope and having something to live for, even if you’re just living for the simple moments.
“His families are watching Colts games with him just simple. I think what COVID-19 has taught us all is those simple things are what really matter. It’s not the big vacations or the big ‘whatevers’ on Facebook. It's him hugging his grandchild that he hasn’t seen. We’re just blessed that we’re able to make this change for him because not everybody can,” said Gardner.