Elderly man finally returned from hospital after his family said he caught COVID-19 from a support worker

One of the first things Edward Wilson did when he returned home after being hospitalized for six months with COVID-19 was to ask his wife if she knew him.

Wilson, 80, contracted the novel coronavirus in March. He spent time in three intensive care units, was intubated twice and had a tracheostomy. His condition was so severe that his relatives were twice asked to make arrangements for his death and gathered on an iPad to say goodbye to him.

“It was such a roller coaster ride because he would get better, then they would take him out of the vent after two months, then transfer him to another hospital, then back to the vent,” her daughter said. , Jillian Danford.

Danford says both his parents caught the virus of a personal support worker at home (PSW) who did not properly wear their personal protective equipment.

Her mother, Janice Wilson, 79, spent a month in hospital and now needs constant care after what Danford describes as irreversible damage to her mobility.

Edward Wilson had to be transferred to two different hospitals because Ontario’s intensive care units were overwhelmed and there were not enough beds. But his wife didn’t always know he left because she had dementia.

“My mom knows who my dad is,” Danford said. “In a way, I think it would have been better if she hadn’t understood.”

Aside from FaceTime and a physical remote hospital visit, Edward and Janice Wilson haven’t seen each other for six months. (Submitted by Jillian Danford)

Danford says that prior to contracting COVID-19, his mother’s dementia was mild and progressed naturally, but the virus “took the dementia to another level.”

Danford also says his mother went from having a little difficulty with her mobility before COVID-19 to losing her ability to walk.

“In older adults, COVID can often make chronic illnesses worse,” said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Sinai Health in Toronto and the University of Health Network. He says that for dementia in particular, COVID can turn a mild case into a moderate or severe case.

“For older people who have had a significant experience with COVID… they are more likely to experience disability and poor functioning in general,” Sinha said.

Even if someone is hospitalized for six months directly because of COVID-19 and its long-term effects, like Edward Wilson, Sinha says it is difficult to diagnose long COVID in the elderly because they are more susceptible already living with several chronic diseases. conditions.

“Sometimes it is a little difficult to understand if this is purely a long COVID symptom, or if it may be a reflection of other illnesses or illnesses, for example, which have now progressed due to the sickness.”

“We don’t know much about the long term COVID in the elderly,” Sinha said.

2 and a half months of rehabilitation

Before returning home on September 16, Edward Wilson had been in an inpatient rehabilitation program since July.

Wilson says the parts of his body that he never had problems with before COVID-19 hurt him now and he gets tired very easily.

For example, he now says he has trouble with his nerves in his hands.

“Sometimes I can reach out and next time I can’t.”

During the six months he was hospitalized, Wilson says he dreamed of returning to the family home where he and his wife raised their children.

“I worked hard to make this happen.”

Edward Wilson and his wife, Janice Wilson, September 16, 2021. (Paul Borkwood / CBC)

He says he pushed himself to the hospital.

“They didn’t believe I could walk,” said Wilson, who began trying to get on his feet with the help of two people in August after pushing to be allowed to train with a walker.

When he was previously bedridden with cancer, his wife used to bring breakfast, lunch and dinner upstairs to her room.

Now he is determined to recover so that he can take care of his wife: she sleeps on a hospital bed in the living room. His wife needs round-the-clock care, so the family have hired a private caregiver and rely on a PSW provided by the local integrated health network, which Danford says comes inconsistently.

“We have to sit down together and try to get back to a life of retirement because it’s not retirement,” Wilson said.

He has been home for less than a week and the family is already preparing for the next move.

“My dad worked so hard to have this beautiful house… It’s too big for them now, so we have to make decisions for them to downsize and move on to assisted living,” Danford said.

“I never thought that a virus would come and knock them down and throw them into a future that neither of us really expected to happen so quickly.”

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