Tags: Coronavirus | nursing | homes | coronavirus | seniors

Nursing Homes During Coronavirus: What to Ask to Protect Seniors

Nursing Homes During Coronavirus: What to Ask to Protect Seniors
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By Wednesday, 06 May 2020 08:20 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The most recently reported data shows that 4,000 nursing homes in the United States had one or more confirmed cases of coronavirus infecting over 50,000 residents with approximately 10,000 known fatalities.

These statistics reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation come from states providing information voluntarily, and there is still no coordinated system to track and report statistics from assisted living and nursing homes.

With 15,600 licensed nursing homes caring for 1.4 million residents and 28,000 assisted living communities with over 1 million residents in the United States, 4,000 reported homes is probably an underestimation.

If you have a loved one currently living in a nursing home or an assisted living community, you are asking yourself one critical question: do you bring that person home or keep them in place? Well the answer is not simple, but there are several factors you need to consider as you make a decision that is literally a matter of life or death.

Questions for the Facility

  1. Has the facility reported any confirmed cases yet?
  2. Has the facility communicated with you their plan for preventing and/or containing an outbreak?
  3. Have there been any outbreaks in facilities in your geographic region?
  4. Has the facility stopped visitors and anyone but staff to enter the building, and if so, has the been in effect for at least the last 14 days?
  5. What does the facility recommend about transporting and caring for your loved one at home?

The irony of this situation is that the residents of a nursing home or assisted living facility are living in close quarters as a community of the most vulnerable population to the coronavirus.

But, facilities across the country went into action to prevent outbreaks very quickly after the tragedy of Kirkland, Washington. They have locked their doors to outside visitors and been on the highest possible alert ever since. People living in these environments are living in the safest, most dangerous place they could be.

If you are considering pulling your loved one out, look at the situation specifically in your facility. If there has been no outbreak, and the numbers of confirmed cases in your geographic region are relatively low and contained, your loved one is probably better off staying in place.

If there is an outbreak underway, you then should consider pulling your loved one out. But you need to understand you could be exposing your own residence to contamination, and you need to be ready and able to take on the role of caregiver. And to do this, it will take more than good intentions, you need to be capable of providing 24-7 care in a safe and regimented manner, and for an extended period of time.

Questions for the Family

  1. Are you capable of safely transporting your loved one?
  2. Is your home suited to safely house your loved one?
  3. Are you or others physically capable of caring for your loved one 24-7?
  4. Would you have the appropriate equipment, bedding, bathroom, food, medicines and medical supplies to care for a loved one?
  5. Is your home environment sufficiently quarantined to prevent infection?
  6. Are you prepared to respond to a medical emergency if one arises?

As you consider your options, remember that nursing homes are staffed with professionals, equipment, provisions and medical supplies. They specialize in caring for this most vulnerable population and are very experienced in containing highly contagious threats such as influenza and pneumonia. If they are free of contamination, then your loved one is quarantined in a very safe environment.

But if an outbreak is underway then you need to understand they are in close quarters in a perilous situation. Outbreaks have started happening, and in some environments, it has gotten out of control.

A nursing home in Pennsylvania recently reported that 42 out of 450 residents and 10 out of 300 workers had tested positive. Los Angeles County has confirmed testing positive cases in 121 facilities to date. And 10 residents have died from Coronavirus in one nursing home in Georgia.

There is no easy decision here but start by looking at your loved one’s situation with a cool head. If there is no outbreak, you are probably better off to stay put and keep in close contact.

If a positive case is reported, you need to be on higher alert, but that doesn’t mean an outbreak is imminent. But, if an outbreak does erupt, it is time to seriously and quickly consider your capability to safely take and keep your loved one home for an indefinite period of time.

Chris Orestis, President of LifeCare Xchange and known as the Retirement Genius, is a nationally recognized senior care advocate and expert in retirement, long-term care and specialty senior living funding solutions. The author of two books, numerous published papers and articles, and a frequent industry speaker; he is the innovator that brought the LTC Life Settlement into the market over a decade ago.

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If you have a loved one currently living in a nursing home or an assisted living community, you are asking yourself one critical question: do you bring that person home or keep them in place?
nursing, homes, coronavirus, seniors
Wednesday, 06 May 2020 08:20 AM
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