To some extent, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly everyone’s daily lives across the United States. Seniors have been especially affected due to their increased risk of contracting a serious case of the virus.
If you have an older loved one, COVID-19 may put you in a tough situation due to their increased health risk. Seniors need to be even more diligent about social distancing than the rest of the population. This distancing can make it difficult to determine how to handle your loved one’s care while also keeping them safe, especially if they require daily assistance or care.
Senior living environments like The Classic that offer independent living as well as assisted living level of services are still the best option for many individuals. Considering the enhanced safety measures senior living communities like The Classic are taking, moving to a senior community may make more sense than living alone and not getting adequate care.
Determining the Appropriate Care Options
Coronavirus spreads easily from person to person, a phenomenon known as “community spread,” which makes apartment complexes and senior living communities an environment in which the virus can thrive. This may make some people hesitant to move their loved one into an assisted living facility right now, even if their loved one needs care.
While senior living communities are implementing strict health and safety measures to prevent community spread, it may be harder to implement the same kinds of policies in your own home. For example, if your elderly loved one lives with you, someone who lives in the home could pick up the virus while running errands and unknowingly pass the virus to your older loved one. Or, if the senior’s main family caregiver gets sick, the family may need to choose whether to potentially pass the illness onto their older loved one or leave their loved one temporarily without care. Additionally, seniors who live alone will most likely be completely isolated for the foreseeable future as people follow social distancing guidelines. This can present dangers for both physical and mental health.
When you consider the steps that senior communities are taking, such as enacting strict social distancing rules and other safety protocols, and the fact that residents don’t need to leave for essentials, your loved one may be safer there right now. Senior living communities also have several caregivers on staff, ensuring that residents will not have to go without care in the event that someone on the staff is unable to work during the virus outbreak.
Who is a Good Fit for Residential Care During Coronavirus?
If your loved one is not currently living in a residential care facility, you may have put plans to move on hold for now. But for many seniors, a senior living community is still the right choice. In general, the following people are good candidates for senior living:
• Seniors who need regular assistance with the activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, or dressing
• Seniors who live alone and have a medical condition that may require urgent attention
• Seniors who have dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another form of memory impairment, as this can make it difficult to follow hygiene protocols
• Seniors living with any family members who are unable to social distance or isolate such as medical professionals, grocery workers, etc.
• Seniors who live with any family member who has traveled internationally in the last two weeks
• Seniors who live in a home with other people who are not isolating, and the senior does not have their own bedroom and/or bathroom where they can isolate
Proper Precautions for Senior Living Communities
The following are a few of the steps many senior living communities like The Classic are taking to protect their residents. It’s important to note that you should always follow the latest guidance from the CDC and local government directives and be sure that you are taking action on reliable information directly from the source.
At the present time, most senior living communities in Wisconsin continue to have a “no family visitor” policy, whereby family members are not allowed to enter the facility. An exception does allow for no more than 3-4 family visitors to be present on a “move-in” day to help a parent or relative place his/her personal belongings. Visitors must have their temperature taken, complete a short medical questionnaire, and be masked at all times. Also, up to 2-3 family members can be present during an “end-of-life” scenario.
Staff screenings and health requirements
Staff are screened on a daily basis and are being instructed to stay home if they are exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus or the cold, flu, or any other illness. Since most workers in senior living communities spend time with many different residents throughout the day, if a staff member is sick, the likelihood of them passing the illness along to multiple recipients is high. It is especially important that staff do not work when there’s any chance that they may be sick and could introduce an illness to the facility. Work policies have been adjusted to allow for more flexibility in missing work.
Postponing activities and limiting access to communal spaces
Because residents live in apartment-style units and tend to eat, relax, and congregate in communal areas, it can be difficult to implement social distancing in senior care communities. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, most communities have either totally postponed or altered group activities for the foreseeable future and have closed common areas like dining rooms. In lieu of closed dining areas, most communities are offering “room service” or some form of “grab ‘n go” dining. Most communities are requiring residents to wear a facemask if he/she is outside of their apartment. In addition, high traffic areas are disinfected multiple times each day and increased placement of hand sanitizer stations is typical.
Facilities are regularly screening residents for any symptoms of coronavirus, specifically respiratory distress. Daily screening can help facilities catch any cases of coronavirus early and prevent further community spread.