90-year-old Florida man wears full PPE to say final goodbye to wife with dementia

LAKELAND, Fla. (WSVN) — A 90-year-old man dressed up in full personal protective equipment to get the chance to say goodbye to his wife with dementia.

According to FOX 13, Sam Reck has been by the side of his wife, JoAnn, 86, for nearly the last 30 years.

Even when she went to a nursing facility, Reck lived in the building next door.

“They spent every day with each other,” JoAnn’s son, Scott Hooper said. “Sam would go to her room each morning and would stay with her all day. Each night he would kiss her goodnight.”

However, the couple was separated at the start of the pandemic.

“This was devastating for her,” Hooper told FOX 13. “Her dementia spiraled out of control. She had good and bad days or good and bad weeks.”

The family worked to stay connected with JoAnn, even creating a collection of videos in the style of “50 First Dates” in order to help her remember what was going on with the pandemic.

However, JoAnn contracted COVID-19 and her condition began deteriorating.

JoAnn has a “do not resuscitate” order that includes respirators, so her family chose palliative care.

The family was allowed to visit JoAnn and say their final goodbyes as long as they wore PPE. Despite being part of the vulnerable population, Reck was willing to take the chance to say goodbye to his wife.

“Hi, honey. Hi, darling,” Sam said to her. “You don’t recognize me with all this junk on my face, but it is Sam. I love you, sweetheart. I love you so much… I’m finally getting to hold your hand after all these months.”

JoAnn passed away the next day, and now her family is hoping to share their story in how the lockdown affects those with dementia.

“What has grabbed everyone’s attention is the loving story between my mom and my stepfather,” Hooper told FOX 13. “But I would love for people to understand the struggles people with dementia are going through during COVID. It’s a situation worse than death.”

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