You can tell a lot from a person’s hands. Every time Joan Dawson of Birmingham has a video call with her mother, she asks to see them.
“You look for marks or scratches,” Dawson said. “Are they clean? Is there dirt under the fingernails?”
Dawson’s mother lives in a nursing home, and these calls have provided the only contact between the two women since early March, when nursing homes in Alabama closed to all visitors. The calls have replaced daily visits by Dawson and her sister.
“For mother and for us, FaceTime has been a lifesaver,” Dawson said. “It has saved my sanity.”
Not every family is so lucky. Not all nursing homes have made video visits available to families, and some residents are too ill to participate. Even the best video call can’t replace an in-person visit, Dawson said.
She and other family members have come together as part