SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — At the beginning of March, the New York State Department of Health released new guidance for visitors at assisted living facilities, which are centers that care for people who are somewhat independent.

Sue Wallace, who hasn’t been able to hug or touch her parents in a year, says her mother’s dementia got worse because she hasn’t had interaction or a routine. Her mom used to live in the assisted care facility with her husband of 67 years, but has had to move.

“She is in another facility in Rochester in a memory care unit,” Wallace said.

This move has taken a toll on her father.

“It’s been very difficult for him,” Wallace said. “Again, it’s almost like he lost her, she’s still with us, but it’s like he lost his wife.”

The state will now allow visitors in private residences whereas before, residents could only see loved ones outside or in common areas. While there is an ease on restrictions, the executive director for Empire State Association of Assisted Living, there are still strict rules.

“If there is a positive case of any staff person or resident, the entire program, the entire visitation program will have to shut down for 14 days.”

During the private visitation sessions, everyone in the room is still required to wear a mask and social distance. Also, there are only a certain number of visitors allowed based on the number of residents in that facility. Those who want to visit will need to go through a COVID-19 screening. Each center across the state will create its own guidance, based on what the state has released.

Wallace says her father’s facility is open to visitors and she has an appointment to see him next week.

“I already see a difference in him, his voice, he’s more upbeat,” Wallace said. “It seems small, but it has made a huge difference to his mental and emotional well being.”