It seems like uncertainty is everywhere these days. With so much up in the air right now, considering a move into an assisted living facility can feel particularly scary. But it doesn’t have to be! Knowing if it truly is the right time to make that move, as well as the best ways to make it as safe as possible, can help reduce the risk and make everyone feel confident that either they or their loved ones will continue to stay healthy, even during a pandemic.
So, Is It Safe To Move Into Assisted Living Right Now?
This is a logical question to be asking, as seniors are one of the most at risk categories. It’s completely understandable to feel some fear about entering into an assisted living facility right now. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a safe decision. Knowing how to best evaluate a facility can help create peace of mind, even before moving in.
Now, more than ever, assisted living facilities really need to be evaluated for their safety protocols prior to having any senior move in. Making sure that any potential facility is taking proper precautions to keep their residents safe is a great way to know that they value each and every one of them.
For starters, a great assisted living facility should have reduced or even completely stopped all visits from non-residents. At the very least, visitors allowed in should have to pass coronavirus screening, including having their temperature taken and answering questions about symptoms/travel, and masks should be worn at all times. While it may be difficult to consider, visitor restrictions are one of the best ways that facilities can keep their residents’ exposure to potential coronavirus as low as possible.
It’s also important to ask questions about staff protocols. Any staff that are exhibiting symptoms, like cough or fever, should be required to stay home and isolate until receiving a negative test result. All staff should be wearing masks at all times, and should be increasing the frequency that they clean and disinfect resident rooms and common areas. The way that the staff and management approaches care during this trying time says a lot about the facility, and the standard of care they provide in a more normal situation.
One last factor to consider are if or how frequently the facility performs resident assessments. While most residents are already assessed at least daily for their normal health concerns, protocol should have expanded to include coronavirus symptoms and temperature checks. Any residents showing signs of respiratory distress should be taken very seriously, and moved to isolation until further evaluation can be performed.
Who Should Still Be Considering An Assisted Living Facility Move?
Obviously, this is a time a lot of people are questioning whether or not they should move themselves or their loved ones into an assisted living facility. While anyone ready to make that move should feel free to seriously consider it, there are a few groups where a move should be more strongly urged. A few examples are:
- Seniors who need more assistance with their activities of daily living (or ADLs) then they are currently able to receive. ADLs include bathing, eating, and dressing among others.
- Seniors who struggle with memory impairments (Dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.) due to the difficulty they may have following the recommended hygiene protocols.
- Senior living with essential workers or others who may not be able to socially distance or may be regularly exposed (like hospital workers).
In these cases, moving into a facility is safer than the current level of exposure they are getting in their current environments.
Are There Other Options?
If you’ve decided that moving into an assisted living facility right now isn’t the right move for you, you’re likely wondering what some alternative care options may be. While this is an individual decision, there are a few likely candidates to consider.
- Consider moving in with a family member who is able to properly socially distance, and where you can have a room that allows you to safely isolate yourself from other members of the household.
- Hiring in-home care from a reputable agency.
- Medical alert systems if it is too unsafe for the senior to move.
While many of these are just stop-gaps until it is more safe for those seniors to move, they are a great way to bridge the gap and keep them safe until there is a more appropriate time.
So, if you’re considering a move into an assisted living facility, don’t let fear rule. It can still be safe to move if you have thoroughly evaluated the facility and verified they have safety protocols put into place to reduce the risk of anyone getting sick. Keeping seniors safe should be the number one priority of all staff and management at a care home, so you should never be afraid to ask questions. Stay safe!