As Minnesota continues to relax COVID restrictions, seniors get chance to visit face-to-face with loved ones

Our senior population has been limited to virtual and window visits for months due to the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc at nursing homes.

Now, some long-term care facilities in Minnesota are doing more in-person visits outdoors in socially-distanced settings.

Friday, we caught up with a father and son who are using the holiday weekend to catch up.

Eighty-eight-year-old Dennis Trampe is thrilled to spend some face-to-face time with his grown son Brad outside the Estates at Greeley, a long-term care facility in Stillwater.

"It’s been really difficult," said Brad Trampe. "Before we were able to do this. His room is right over there. We were looking through the glass, trying to talk on the telephone which was really hard."

During the height of the pandemic over the last few months, it’s been only window visits, phone calls, and some iPad Facetimes for Brad and his brother to visit with their elderly father.

But now they can reminisce in person, with masks on, from across a table in the courtyard, about memories like the time Dennis first got electricity on his northern Minnesota farm. Greeley facility administrator Mike Carlson couldn’t be happier for the return of these precious interactions.

"It’s just so nice to see families see their loved ones," said. "We try our best to be there for the residents when they’re here, but we can’t. We’re not family. I can’t be someone’s son like a son can do."

One thing Brad and Dennis say they miss so much right now in Stillwater is something simple: Going out to dinner together.

The Trampes explained they'd meet up three or four times a week before COVID-19 arrived in Minnesota, cherishing their status as welcomed regulars at one local restaurant.

"All of the gals there, we frequented it so much," said Brad. "He’d have a cup of coffee and a cookie within seconds, they’d see us coming in."

Senator Amy Klobuchar is hoping her proposed Access Act will soon become law to make sure families like the Trampes never lose their ability to connect, regardless of what happens during the pandemic to protect the nation’s elderly.

"You cannot have a happy life if you have loved one you never see or talk to and you’re alone," said Klobuchar.