3 Options for Senior Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, life is growing ever more challenging for elderly adults. Not only is COVID-19 a serious concern for seniors and others with compromised health, but the social isolation brought on by lockdown measures poses a threat all its own.
As a result, many elderly people are struggling with loneliness, depression, and worsening health during the pandemic. And as weeks of lockdown turn into months with no end in sight, families are starting to wonder if staying home is really the best choice for aging loved ones.
While it’s true that staying home is the best way for seniors to avoid contracting COVID-19, that doesn’t mean seniors’ only choice is to stay put. Here are three options for families looking to combat loneliness and get elderly loved ones get the care they need.
Transition to Long-Term Care
Is it safe to move a senior to long-term care during the coronavirus pandemic? While COVID-19 has spread rapidly in long-term care facilities, it’s primarily nursing homes that have been affected. Since assisted living residents can choose private units and only require help with limited tasks, it’s easier to protect themselves from illness.
It is important to consider, however, that many assisted living communities aren’t allowing visitors. New residents may also be required to quarantine upon move-in. Familiarize yourself with any prospective facility’s COVID-19 protocol before signing a contract.
For most families, the challenge isn’t finding an assisted living community, but paying for it. Assisted living is costlyand if you’ve been economically impacted by the pandemic, the monthly costs may be out of budget. If you’re like many families, you’re considering selling your loved one’s home if you’re in a bind and need a way to pay for long-term care.
Researching local home prices can give you an idea of how much long-term care the proceeds would cover. For instance, Redfin shows homes in Fort Lauderdale averaged a price point of $349K last month. Keep in mind, however, that the pandemic has hobbled the housing market in many areas and you may find it harder to get full price for a home.
Hire a Home Caregiver
The high price of long-term care, concerns over COVID-19, and the inability to visit seniors in assisted living are just a few of the reasons that many families are opting for in-home care during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, in-home care isn’t risk-free either. Many elderly or disabled adults rely on a rotation of staffers to meet their daily needs, but the more caregivers that enter a senior’s home, the greater the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Rather than hiring an agency, which may use a variety of workers to fill a senior’s care needs, families should look to private caregivers during the pandemic. Hiring private caregivers limits the number of people an elderly loved one is exposed to and allows families to fully understand a care provider’s personal risk level. Relying on a single care provider may be foolish, however. Every family should have a back-up plan in the event their primary carer falls ill.
Become a Family Caregiver
For families who aren’t happy with either long-term care option, there’s a third solution: becoming a family caregiver. While moving an elderly parent in with you is not an easy decision to make, it may be the best way to provide seniors with the care they need while reducing exposure to people outside the household.
Before moving a senior parent in, however, it’s important to consider your family’s COVID-19 risk level. Do you have essential workers in the family, or is everyone working from home? Is your household prepared to take extra precautions to keep elderly loved ones safe?
If you’re taking charge of a loved one’s care, there are certain steps you need to take first. The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends stocking up on essential medications, limiting close contact with others, and designating a room in your house where sick household members can self-isolate. If you need a new physician for your loved one, don’t delay. Due to physician shortages it takes time to connect with a new doctor.
There are no easy answers when it comes to caregiving through the pandemic. Every answer comes with benefits and costs for elderly adults and their loved ones. Think carefully about the best caregiving solution for you and your family so you can keep everyone as safe, healthy, and connected as possible.