Image of older man with cane, sitting alone

Social distancing due to the coronavirus is taking a harsh toll on residents’ mental health. Some eldercare facility administrators are asking officials to ease restrictions and allow limited socializing within the community and with family members, according to a Sun Sentinel report.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last weekend issued an executive order that extends the state’s social distancing bans on facility visitors for 60 more days. It also prohibits group activities, including communal dining. But some administrators think the effects of two months of restrictions are too much to bear for many residents.

“Our residents are breaking down and crying,” said Margaret Friend-Conti, administrator of Pelican Garden Assisted Living in Sebastian and Dixie Oak Manor in Vero Beach, in an interview with the news outlet. “I wish the governor would visit so he could see what we see. It affects our staff so much because you see the decline in our residents.”

One assisted living facility operator said that residents are threatening to leave if they face another 60 days of lockdown, wrote reporter Cindy Krischer Goodman.

The state responded to a query about the problems by stating that it plans to provide nursing homes access to funds to expand virtual visits capabilities. But the owner of one assisted living operation wasn’t having any of it.

“Why is our only option to lock our doors?” Amy Van Kleeck, executive director of Twin Creeks Assisted Living in Riverview told the Sun Sentinel. “Why not stock us up on PPE and allow residents for the sake of their mental health to see other people very cautiously?”

Administrators suggest that careful resumption of visitations, requiring visitors to wear a mask and keep a six-foot separation, could work to help return some normalcy to residents’ lives and restore their mental health.