The media is full of stories about the high number of confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths in “Nursing Homes”. It’s enough to make anybody postpone moving to senior living to detriment of seniors and their family caregivers. The situation isn’t as bad as it seems.
First, a pet peeve of mine is the media has always called all senior living options “Nursing Homes” when in reality there are a lot of different kinds of senior living. There’s independent living for those who are still active but are tired of cooking, housekeeping, yard maintenance and would like to be around others of their cohort. Assisted living is everything that independent living is but includes access to a nurse, caregivers, and a medication aide 24×7. It’s for people who may need some help with personal care or medication management. Memory care is for people who need more assistance and/or people who are “elopement” risks (they see a door and will try to go out). Adult Care Homes are private residences that, in Oregon, only have five seniors living there. The personal care is phenomenal, and the senior is a part of the family. The number of seniors in “nursing homes” is few and they have extensive care needs that usually can’t be met in the other options.
I have been incredibly impressed with the “other” options such as independent living and assisted living, are during this time of Covid-19. They’re taking extreme precautions to keep their residents safe and the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is not that high.
Residents in independent and assisted living are confined to their apartments for safety and meals are being delivered. Residents and staff are all wearing masks and are being extremely careful. The communities are very creative on how they’re now conducting activities. Residents are sitting in their apartment doorway doing exercises or bingo with other residents down the hall—all safely socially distanced. Entertainment is outside so residents can look out their windows to see the performances. I’ve seen drive by car shows or family visitors with residents sitting outside appropriately spaced. Staff is taking ice cream, root beer floats happy hour to each resident’s apartment and are extremely upbeat and positive. They’re using their in-community TV to broadcast story hour, exercise and entertainment. Adjustments are being made so residents still get the benefit of living in senior communities.
Communities are not allowing outside visitors such as family. That makes it difficult for families to visit their loved ones but is intended to keep their residents safe. Staff, again, is getting creative on how to facilitate visits. They’re helping residents who need it see their families using iPads, GrandPads (tablets for seniors) and Zoom. I saw a photo of one community who put up a sheet of plexiglass. Family was on one side and the senior on the other. They could see each other in person but had extra protection via the plexiglass (and masks).
If you are considering moving to senior living it is possible to virtually tour communities. Many have links on their website. Marketing managers are more than willing to walk around their community showing what it is like via FaceTime or Facebook Messenger. They can provide photos, videos, interviews with current residents. It is almost like you’re there.
We always recommend working with a trusted, local Senior Living Advisor such as Right Fit Senior Living Solutions. They have been to the communities and know the vibe, the culture, and the feel of the community. They can provide good options, links to websites and virtual tours, highlights about the community and costs. Right Fit Senior Living Solutions can help narrow down the options and make the process of finding senior living much easier.
Is Covid-19 affecting senior communities? Yes, but they’re doing everything they can to mitigate the exposure risk, and keep their residents active, entertained and happy. Seniors still need the benefits of senior living, now more than ever. Isolation caused by Covid restrictions is very impactful for seniors socially, physically and spiritually. In addition, they may not be taking their medications properly or getting the care and attention they need. Senior living communities are still a great option, they just look a little different than they did a few months ago.