Many of the early pandemic victims were the elderly. Many victims lived in long-term care facilities. These facilities were simply not prepared to deal with a contagious outbreak. The government is working with facilities on taking preventative measures.
Lack of Preparation
Personnel at the facilities were totally unprepared for the pandemic. They’d never had to deal with anything like it before. Further, many of the facilities did not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE.) Some older people are reconsidering where they want to live in light of recent events. Indeed, community assisted living programs had to take precautions as well.
A facility must have a plan to protect residents from infection. Staff members and residents must be screened for COVID regularly. Further, the facility must be deep-cleaned to prevent the spread of germs. Everyone needs to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines. Residents are taught proper handwashing skills and coughing etiquette.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidelines for nursing homes to follow in early spring. Facilities were put on lockdown. No one was allowed to enter but staff. It makes sense to restrict visitors because they may carry the virus. Residents are screened daily for COVID symptoms and group activities are a thing of the past. Nursing homes are also required to report the number of COVID deaths. In many areas, the National Guard was brought in to deep clean facilities and assist the staff with COVID testing.
Similar recommendations were issued for Assisted Living facilities. However, assisted living facilities do not have federal oversight. They are licensed by states and are not required to report COVID deaths. However, most facilities were locked down and visitors were not allowed. Staff members and residents are tested regularly. Family members who want information on COVID deaths should contact the state or the facility’s Administrator.
Should I Move my Loved One
It seems to make sense to bring a loved one home during a pandemic. However, there are questions to ask yourself beforehand? For example, can you provide the level of care that your loved one needs? Further, how is the facility handling things during the pandemic? Most importantly, will your relative be allowed to return to the nursing home after the pandemic?
On the other hand, some elderly relatives are already living at home. Caregivers need to follow the same guidelines as workers in a facility. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and disinfect often. Elderly family members should stay at home. Arrange to have their supplies delivered. Limit the number of visitors in the home and keep them away from grandma and grandpa.
What Can I Do?
Many elderly facility residents are very lonely at this point. Their communal style of living is on hold and they can’t see the family. Make sure that the family stays in touch. Call your relatives on a regular basis and make sure they sound okay. Use Zoom to let family members visit with one another. Additionally, ask other relatives to call and write them notes.
The sad reality is the pandemic is far from over. Now, there’s the possibility of a vaccine soon. The elderly may be among the first groups to take the vaccine. Talk to your family doctor if you have questions and concerns about a vaccine.