Senior care programs are challenging during the best of times, but the coronavirus has made things worse. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been a hotbed for infection from the virus, accounting for nearly 40% of deaths attributed to it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults over the age of 65. These facts are making it hard for seniors to decide where they should go if they need long-term assistance, since the track record in nursing facilities for medical care is dismal.
"People with loved ones in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other types of senior living facilities may be understandably concerned about their loved one's risk of illness from COVID-19," says the CDC, which offers guidance for older adults.
Medical News Today reports that COVID-19 has hit older adults harder than any other age group. Underlying conditions and weakened immune systems make them more vulnerable to the ravages of the disease. Those suffering from dementia living in long-term care facilities present a specific challenge, since they may not understand the dangers of infection and forget to wash their hands or practice social distancing. According to the CDC, at least half of the older adults living in these facilities have Alzheimer's disease or some form of dementia.
According to Axios, one option may be home care, but professional home health care workers are hard to find so the burden of caring for an elderly person falls on the adult children.
"But not all parents want to do that," said Toby Edelman, a senior policy attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy.
Until there is widespread testing in senior facilities and the staff is better equipped to handle outbreaks like the coronavirus, older people will be hesitant to move to assisted living or nursing homes.
"Especially with the way the coronavirus has spread at these facilities, there's going to be a fear until there's trust that the risks are sufficiently low," Carri Chan, a healthcare business professor at Columbia University, told Axios.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.