April 20th, 2020 | COVID-19 Helpful Information
A fact-based evaluation of options during the pandemic
It's a stark dilemma, with complications compounded by COVID-19 restrictions: Aging loved ones need continuous assistance to remain at home, due to mobility, dementia or other ongoing major health concerns, but caregivers cannot securely provide personal assistance and ensure the health of themselves and their families.
Lately, the media have dutifully reported the crisis, but often err on the side of the sensational rather than the whole picture. Here's the whole picture:
- On April 9, 2020, Kaiser Health News reported approximately 700 coronavirus cases in Assisted Living in 29 States.
- On that date, there were 423,000 positive tests in the U.S., so the Assisted Living cases amounted to just .17% of total cases.
- Fewer than 2% of all AL residences (around 28,000) have been exposed, due to multiple cases within single communities.
- 50% of all cases are in three states, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, where the concentration is high in the general population (and where there are no Legend Senior Living communities).
There's no minimizing the seriousness of the viral threat. The point is, residences like ours have never minimized it. Instead, we have by our very design been prepared for it.
In the last three decades, Assisted Living and Memory Care in a senior living residence has been a solution that actually improves on living at home. All of the needed care is there, 24/7, along with a vibrant social life, exercise, nutrition and more independence, dignity and quality of life than could be had at home, which depended on the part-time availability of caregivers. In ordinary times, families could take their time to select a community, and keep things going as usual until everyone was comfortable with the transition. Obviously, these are not ordinary times.
“If your loved one is not currently living in a residential care facility, you may have put plans to move them in on pause. But, for many seniors, assisted living is still the right choice.”
“Should I Still Consider Assisted Living for My Loved Ones During the COVID-19 Pandemic?” – Caring.com, March 30, 2020
Has the Option to Move to Assisted Living Been Restricted?
No. In fact, just the opposite. A qualified senior living residence with the full complement of Assisted Living and Memory Care services is the first choice of medical professionals and hospitals for referral and transfer of discharged patients who need assistance with daily living. Why? Discharging a senior patient in need of ongoing care to the family or to their own home can expose a highly vulnerable person to infection. There are no assured methods of control and sanitation.
By contrast, in an Assisted Living & Memory Care community, the transition is made in a controlled environment, where the only people in contact are screened professionals exercising the highest level of precaution. The residence itself is under the tightest scrutiny, with stringent sanitary standards, regular disinfecting of the entire building and screening of restricted necessary personnel every time they enter the property.
Among the first to do so, Legend Senior Living residences have made COVID-19 testing available system-wide. Your loved one enjoys an active, independent life, while both of you are freed of the worry of coronavirus infection. Deliveries of food, medicine and personal items are taken at the front entrance, properly sanitized and delivered to the resident's private apartment. Urgent care is just on the other side of their door. Transfer to vital medical appointments is made by the residence staff, under the strictest protocols.
Why Assisted Living Communities Were Better Prepared
The greatest concern during the COVID-19 outbreak has been among nursing homes, where large numbers of seniors are concentrated in close quarters, and which are often neither designed nor staffed to provide virus-resistant integrity.
No qualified senior living residence should be confused with a traditional nursing home. Private apartments are self-contained environments of their own. Under conditions of a room holiday, residents receive service at their door, and vibrant 1-on-1 activities (except for the favorite Hallway Bingo) and only by screened staff. Our protocols are proactive rather than reactive. In other words, we prepare for contingencies that have not happened yet, which meant we were able to respond immediately in the face of the current threat.
“Of course, care [in the family home] would fall squarely on the family’s shoulders, as would the responsibility for buying groceries, cooking, administering medication, doing the laundry and ensuring the environment is free from potential contamination.”
“Should You Bring Mom Home From Assisted Living During The Pandemic?”
Kaiser Health News, March 31, 2020
Compare Assisted Living to Your Home
Caring.com, a third-party senior living advisor website, offers an objective argument for any family member debating the choice between caring for a loved one at home or making the move to Assisted Living during the COVID-19 epidemic. They recommend you consider these five critical implications that raise one central, important question: Am I really equipped to care for and protect my loved one?
Responsible senior living residences are restricting visitors from entry. Can you guarantee this kind of visitor-proof integrity at home?
Staff are being instructed to stay home if they have symptoms of any type of illness
Staff do not work when there’s any chance that they could introduce an illness to the facility. Could you quarantine a family member?
Postponing activities and limiting access to communal spaces
Communities are postponing and modifying group activities to online or closed-circuit TV networks and restricting common areas to give staff time to thoroughly decontaminate the areas daily. Can you restrict physical contact and still provide life-enriching activity to your loved one?
Enhanced cleaning procedures
Proper senior living residences are always clean, sanitary and regularly inspected. Currently, cleaning procedures have intensified to daily decontamination of the entire building with hospital-grade disinfectants. Can you sanitize every surface in your home daily?
Residences now regularly screen residents for virus symptoms. Daily screening can catch cases early and prevent residence spread. (All 40 Legend Senior Living residences offer COVID-19 testing.) Can you screen and test your loved one and daily screen everyone who comes to the house?
Summarized from “Should I Still Consider Assisted Living for My Loved Ones During the COVID-19 Pandemic?” Caring.com, March 30, 2020, medically reviewed by: Dr. Kimberly Langdon, M.D. – Board Certified Physician
Greater Control and Buying Power
Consider the procedures we just described above. Achieving this level of precaution and service would be daunting to the average family or caregiver, who has little control over where to get resources and how to keep contact with others to a minimum. A company like Legend Senior Living, however, with 40 residences in six states, has the purchase power and supply chain options to keep the residences fully staffed, stocked and prepared. Our residences are purposely designed expressly for supervised senior care, without the retrofitting necessary to an ordinary home. While businesses like restaurants and hotels are sadly laying off qualified workers, we are in the unique position to hire because of our ability to operate.
“Additionally, seniors who live alone will most likely be completely isolated … This can present dangers for both physical and mental health.”
– Caring.com, March 30, 2020
Beyond Confident Care: A Solution for Isolation
So far, we've mostly talked about the health care advantage of Assisted Living. At Legend Senior Living, we consider great care the first pillar of our mission – it's a given. But we serve our residents' physical, mental and spiritual health – the whole person. That's why we devote an entire Directorship in each Legend residence to Life Enrichment, making life the rich experience it should be, regardless of physical and memory challenges. The culture in every residence is vital, supportive, and life-extending. Whether it's maintaining fine dining or social and cultural activities or therapeutic programs, we adapt to secure the health of the residents while we continue all parts of our mission.
We all look forward to the day when our lives can return to normal, and the residents and their families can once again freely visit and re-engage fully with the larger community. Until then, a qualified, reputable Assisted Living residence can provide the options your loved one needs right now, with confidence for a future of independence, dignity and higher quality of life.