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A Former Nurse Discusses Restrictions As An Assisted Living Resident

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Ninety-five-year-old Virginia Chandler was leading a pretty active life in her assisted-living facility in Albany, Ore., until the coronavirus shut everything down. Three months on, restrictions are beginning to loosen and Ms. Chandler can now have visitors. She can even leave to run errands. She has to get permission first. That annoys her. But as a former nurse, Virginia Chandler understands why the lockdown was necessary. She told us about the restrictions under which she lives.

VIRGINIA CHANDLER: We can see almost anyone as long as we stay 6 feet away from them. We cannot go to another area. For instance, my friend is very ill. They don't believe that she will live much longer. I would love to go visit her, but I can't. And this isn't just from my Mennonite home. This is true by the state. I mean, the state has laid down the rules, and then we're to follow what they want done. And by the way, every governor has a different idea and a different way of handling it. Some are opening their doors to everything and anything, and that's not wise either.

SIMON: Yeah. So do take your meals with friends?

CHANDLER: Yes, but we can only one at a table.

SIMON: One at a table.

CHANDLER: So we say hello to each other.

SIMON: Yeah. As you may have heard, about more than 25% of the people who have died from coronavirus are in nursing homes and assisted-care facilities.

CHANDLER: Yes.

SIMON: Do you feel safe?

CHANDLER: I feel safe as far as people here. They're very good.

SIMON: So you're not worried about the coronavirus.

CHANDLER: I am concerned from different standpoints. I'm 95 in December, and so I'm ready for the end of my life and prepared for it. I am concerned that people are treated well. And I hope that our country begins to look at what is happening economically, medically, emotionally. Emotions is the big problem right now because we've been locked up and down for such a long time. And if we want to go, like, say, to a picnic - for instance, one of my great-granddaughters is graduating from high school. I'd love to go to her graduation. I'd love to go to her home for a party afterwards, but I'm not going to be able to.

SIMON: Yeah. Well, you know, the experts say those restrictions are for your own safety.

CHANDLER: Oh, yes, of course. Yeah, but that's for your physical. And we're not made up of just the physical. We're made up of emotional, psychological, ways of expressing ourselves, so we're not an animal of physical side alone.

SIMON: Yeah. It sounds like a tough way to live but that you're very tough in your mind, too.

CHANDLER: Well, yes, it's pretty hard to get up at the beginning of the day and know that you're not going to do anything except to eat or watch something on TV. And so it makes for a long day. And once you've gone through months like we have and continue to look like we will, it looks like a never-ending plague. It's not pleasant.

SIMON: I wish I could say something of comfort, but you wouldn't be fooled by that, would you?

CHANDLER: (Laughter) No. Nobody can fool somebody who's 95 years old, no (laughter).

SIMON: Virginia Chandler, a retired nurse who's an assisted-living resident in Albany, Ore., thanks so much for being with us.

CHANDLER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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