Figuring out how best to support your loved one when they need extra help is complex on its own, but throw in a pandemic and the decision takes on a whole other dimension. If you were leaning towards a move to assisted living you may now be second guessing yourself. If you were planning on care at home, you may feel more confident about that than ever. Hold those thoughts. Staying at home during COVID-19 could have more impact on your loved you than you may realize. Let’s compare.
What’s at Stake
With seniors at higher risk for more severe complications from COVID-19, it goes without saying that limiting their exposure is of the utmost concern. So, if they are being advised to stay put and limit contact, home is surely the best place, right? What you might not realize is that senior living communities may be able to limit exposure to COVID-19 perhaps even more than at home by:
- Strictly following the most up-to-date local, state and federal guidelines from cleaning to PPE to social distancing.
- Making sure residents have everything they need under one roof so they don’t risk exposure to public touchpoints.
- Limiting access to the community and performing safety checks for those who do enter.
- Having staff in place who are experienced with outbreaks and providing ongoing training on pandemic response.
What’s more, there are other concerns that can pose additional health risks to seniors such as social isolation, nutrition and safety. Here’s how the impact differs between home and in assisted living.
Social Isolation at Home
Are you wondering if your loved one is better off staying at home or living in a community setting? This infographic will compare the options so you can decide which option is right for you.
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Even before COVID-19 social isolation was a growing concern that affects nearly 1 in 5 seniors according to AARP. And it’s different from loneliness in that social isolation occurs when your loved one becomes detached physically or psychologically, from family, friends and community. According to the National Institute on Aging, prolonged social isolation can increase the odds of conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, weakened immune system and even depression. One of the biggest risk factors is living alone.
Now nine months into the pandemic your loved one is likely spending more time by themselves than ever because they’re not getting out of the house or having friends and family over. On the other hand, in assisted living, social interaction, activities and hobbies continue with modifications such as social distancing and increased use of technology. In addition, your loved one won’t ever be alone in assisted living as friends, neighbors and caring team members are always near.
Proper nutrition is important for everyone and especially your loved one, yet senior malnutrition costs the United States $51.3 billion a year according to the Alliance on Aging Research. Why? Because it can be complicated as seniors may need more of certain nutrients, have slower metabolism and/ or medications may require dietary restrictions. What’s more, when cooking for one it’s often easier to opt for frozen meals or take out which can mean more unhealthy, processed foods.
In assisted living, you have peace of mind that your loved one will enjoy nutritious, delicious meals prepared by a dining staff that knows their restrictions as well as their preferences. Often the menu is even prepared in collaboration with a nutritionist or dietician. Now with COVID-19 precautions, residents can choose to have their meals delivered to their door or dine in a restaurant-like setting with social distancing in place.
Safety in Assisted Living
The Home Safety Council found that U.S. seniors experience an average of 2.3 million nonfatal home injuries each year, most of which are due to falls. While there are a number of precautions you can take at home to help prevent falls such as clearing walking paths, installing grab bars and having adequate lighting, the anxiety may remain for your loved one. What’s more, if it’s harder for them to manage the daily chores at home this could also put them at greater risk for injury and/or additional stress. Not to mention you may be concerned about how they would manage if a fall or other emergency did occur.
You can both let go of those worries in assisted living for several reasons. One, housekeeping, laundry and maintenance are all included so your loved one can forget about daily chores entirely! Also, the community is designed specifically for seniors with fall prevention in mind. And last, but certainly not least, 24-hour staffing means help is immediately available if and when your loved one might need it.