Nursing home resident Roderich Graff suffers from not being allowed visitors because of the Corona virus. Making phone calls is no substitute, he says.
Here it goes no further: retirement home closes the doors Photo: dpa
I notice the effects of the visiting ban very strongly. I got a feeling of sadness and didn’t understand it at first. And then I realized that it was related to the fact that visitors stopped coming. It made me realize how important they are to me. Before, I would get maybe three or four visits a week from different people. Now it’s zero. Having contact by phone instead is no use, for me the personal conversation is enormously important.
The visitors are a former neighbor and friend, a retired professor and a student. The former neighbor is an alternative practitioner and we talk a lot about his clients and his daily life. With the professor, it’s more about God and the world, such as politics or our attitude toward religion. And there is an old friend who came to read to me from a book. It was a very pleasant atmosphere and we talked about what we had read aloud. She said she wanted to do it by phone, but I said there was no point.
The caregivers do a wonderful job, they help us get up, wash, they bring the food, all very pleasant, but they are not allowed to take care of private things. That’s old – they were not allowed to talk about private things with us even before the Corona virus, they are not supposed to waste time. It wasn’t so bad before, I had my personal visitors. Now I can hardly do anything to catch that.
I had a student who came once or twice a week to help me with my physics research work and everything I can’t do with one hand alone – I’m paralyzed on one side. He’s not allowed to come now either, and that’s very detrimental to me. He helped me with the experiments, with the computer, with the correspondence and now all that is dead. In the meantime, the home’s management has admitted that I am allowed to do the experiments here in the room; before, they had said that this was not a university, but a ward for old people.
92, has been living in a nursing home in the Black Forest since he became paralyzed on one side. He is a mechanical engineer and has long been researching ways to use gravity to generate energy. He is the logger’s uncle.
A closed life
I recently met a caregiver at lunchtime and asked him how things were going, the usual back and forth, then I said, "I’m creeping up with a feeling of sadness." That evening we met again and I asked, "How was your day?" "Terrible," he said. I said, "Why?" "Well, this morning you said you had such a feeling of sadness." I found that most interesting, that he thought of that as something terrible.
I can’t really say how the other residents are reacting to the visitation ban. I suspect it affects them less. Most of them have very closed lives, they’re not as dependent on visitors.
I can’t find out about the pandemic on the Internet right now, I need the student for the computer. I have a friend from college days that I call in the morning and ask, "How are you doing and what’s new in the world?". I don’t feel threatened by the Corona virus.
If I were asked, I would say that the people who want to should come to me. These are responsible people, if they think they have it, they would not come of their own accord or they would ask: Do you want us to visit you? Then I can decide for myself how big or small the risk is.
Conversations without depth
I don’t think much about how long the epidemic will last. I think it’s more likely to get worse. It means a lot to me if my visitors could come back and if my helper could come back.
People call me a little more often. But it is not worthwhile to talk about serious things on the phone. You can’t perceive the other person’s reaction, not the facial expression and feelings. I was thinking that when the first people live on the moon, the others will call them and want to know what it’s like on the moon. And the people on the moon will then probably have a feeling of sadness like I have.