By Dillon Thomas

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – Some Coloradans living with dementia and Alzheimer’s were allowed to hug their loved ones for the first time in almost a year thanks to Tru Hospice and Juniper Village of Louisville. Using a “hug tent,” which has plastic walls with holes for arms, visitors and residents at Juniper Village were able to embrace each other.

“That human contact is so important. It’s a stress reliever,” said Anna Hostetter, a spokesperson for Juniper Village. “They can utilize the tent to give their loved ones a hug, or hold her hand, for the first time in about a year.”

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Anita Hanson’s father lives in the Juniper Village facility. Throughout the pandemic she has only been able to speak with him through a window or an electronic device.

Tuesday she and some of her family were able to hug him for the first time.

“My heart is just swelling with love for him and how much I miss him,” Hanson told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “Just being able to hold him in my arms. I haven’t been able to hold him in a year.”

The entire staff at Juniper Village, as well as each resident, have received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccines.

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“We are hoping that these can be some of our last hug tents. And, soon it could be the real thing and in person,” Hostetter said.

Juniper Village is still waiting for more information from their local and state health departments. They hope the vaccinations will allow them to open their doors to regular visitors.

However, until more guidelines are given they will have to keep visitors physically away.

Thanks to the hug tent Hanson was able to have a quick break from reality, even if plastic separated her and her father.

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“I’ll never take it for granted ever after what has happened this last year,” Hanson said.

Dillon Thomas