Woman Takes Up Dishwashing Job So She Can Visit Husband With Alzheimer’s Amid Pandemic

July 14, 2020 Updated: July 14, 2020

Mary Daniel visited her husband, Steve, every day at his Florida memory care center until they stopped allowing visitors in March because of the CCP virus outbreak.

The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, has kept them apart for 114 days.

Daniel said the isolation took a toll on her 66-year-old husband, who has Alzheimer’s. Thus when the facility offered her a part-time dishwashing job, she jumped at the opportunity. “I told them, ‘I’m gonna be the best dishwasher you’ve ever had, because I want to be here, because I need to be with him,’” Daniel told CNN.

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(Courtesy of Mary Daniel)

Before Covid-19, Daniel said she would help her husband get ready for bed each night, and they would watch TV together before she tucked him in. “That was our set routine and then all of a sudden I’m gone,” she said. “And he doesn’t know why. He can’t understand why.”

Daniel shared they’ve tried doing window visits, but they would upset Steve. He can’t carry on conversations, she said, so visiting over FaceTime didn’t work well for them either.

For the 57-year-old wife, getting to see her husband after she’s done working is a perk, but she’s scrubbing dishes, mopping floors, and cleaning the kitchen just like any dishwasher.

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(Illustration – style-photo/Shutterstock)

“It is full on legit, I had to do a Covid test, a TB test, 20 hours worth of video training and a drug test,” she said, adding that she was going to use her paychecks to do something nice for the rest of the staff.

She worked her first shift on July 3 and said Steve recognized her, even with her mask on.

“I walked into his room and he said my name, he said Mary, which was also a relief,” she recalled. “So when he said, Mary, and gave me the biggest hug, I mean, we both cried.”

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Mary Daniel with her husband, Steve, in a mask. (Courtesy of Mary Daniel)

Daniel said her husband seems much more relaxed since she’s been able to see him, and he even gave her a hug during a recent shift.

“He came up from behind me and put his arms around the front of me … which is an incredible feeling,” she said. “So, he knows who I am. There’s no question, he knows who I am even in a mask.”

Florida issued an emergency order in March that prohibits visits to nursing homes, assisted living, and other long-term care facilities, except for families and friends in end-of-life circumstances. Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the restrictions this week for another 60 days.

The state has become a hotspot, and officials on July 10 reported 11,433 new Covid-19 cases and 93 deaths, according to data on the Florida Department of Health (DOH) website.

“Visitor restrictions have been put in place at communities across our state as a safety measure, aimed at protecting the vulnerable population we serve. But it has been hard on families and residents alike, so we felt creative solutions were necessary, especially in the case of Mary and Steve,” said Kelley Withrow, the executive director for Rosecastle at Deerwood, in a statement.

“We are happy to report that Mary is off to a great start in her new role, and we are excited to see the positive changes in Steve’s demeanor as well,” she added.

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(Illustration – Mego studio/Shutterstock)

Daniel said that she understands why the rules are in place and she appreciates the hard work everyone is putting in, but she thinks there has to be a better way.

She’s urged the state and Gov. DeSantis to adjust the restrictions and has started a Facebook group with other families to try to find other options.

“It’s incredibly sad to see that these patients are significantly declining because they are isolated,” she said. “We are isolating these patients to save them, but the isolation is killing them.”

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(Illustration – Chinnapong/Shutterstock)

The CNN Wire and Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.