When your family originally decided it was time for mom & dad (or grandma & grandpa) to move into a senior living community, it felt like the logical next step – that was before the pandemic began. Everyone assumed it would be easier for your loved ones to live in assisted or independent living because you didn’t have enough time to give them the attention they need, your parents’ safety was a major concern, and you wanted them to stay social with others their age.
Now that most of the American workforce is working from home or have modified schedules and the children are e-learning at home, in a way it feels like you have been gifted more time. No commute means there’s more time to be around your elderly loved ones. Maybe it’s time to finally renovate your home so your elderly loved ones can visit more often and provide accessibility for longer stays. AARP says: “If you had to take your mother home, what would that look like? What would you need? Is it even feasible?” You must weigh the person’s unique needs and your ability to provide the appropriate support.
Keeping the Elderly Safe from COVID-19…
Most likely after hearing about the high risk associated with COVID-19 within nursing homes, you and your family have discussed bringing mom & dad back home to live with you full-time, or at least create accomodations for them to stay with you during this scary time.
“With the coronavirus moving through facilities that house older adults, families across the country are wondering “Should I bring Mom or Dad home?” It’s a reasonable question. Most retirement complexes and long-term care facilities are excluding visitors. Older adults are asked to stay in their rooms and are alone for most of the day. Family members might call, but that doesn’t fill the time. Their friends in the facility are also sequestered.
In a matter of weeks, conditions have deteriorated in many of these centers. At assisted living sites, staff shortages are developing as aides become sick or stay home with children whose schools have closed. Nursing homes, where seniors go for rehabilitation after a hospital stay or live long term if they’re seriously ill and frail, are being hard hit by the coronavirus. They’re potential petri dishes for infection.” KHN.org
There’s Mounting Evidence Suggesting to Bring Loved Ones Home
The cause for alarm isn’t unjustified. According to Caring.com: “If you have an older loved one, COVID-19 may put you in a tough situation due to their increased risk. Seniors need to be even more diligent about social distancing than the rest of the population. This distancing can make it difficult to determine how to handle your loved one’s care while also keeping them safe, especially if they require daily assistance or care.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly everyone’s daily lives across the United States to some extent, but the senior community has been hit especially hard due to their increased risk of contracting a serious case of the virus. In the U.S., there have been over 120,000 confirmed cases, and over 2,000 deaths at the time of writing – a number that’s expected to rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), older adults are especially at risk. According to a March 26th report the fatality rate for adults between 75 and 84 ranges from 4% to 11% and the fatality rate for adults 85 and older ranges from 10% to 27%.”
How Do I Know if I’m Making the Right Decision to Bring Mom and Dad Home?
Everyday we learn more about how the pandemic is affecting the world. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the level of assistance your loved one needs and if the environment is comfortable and safe. When comparing what you can provide in your own home to what the senior living community offers, think about the risks vs the reward. “It’s not a simple yes or no because everyone’s situation is very different,” says Bob Stephen, AARP’s vice president of family caregiving and health programs.
- What are the benefits and risks of moving your loved one?
- What does your loved one want?
- What are your loved one’s care needs?
- Can you provide appropriate care at home (including specialized care, meals, medication management, assistance in the bathroom and with hygiene, engaging your loved one in activities)?
- Is there still risk of COVID-19 exposure at home?
- What will you do if someone at home is infected?
- If you are worried about social isolation, can you can do virtual or window visits with your loved one in the nursing home?
- If you move your loved one home and change your mind, can they be readmitted to the care home?
- Are the reasons for moving your loved one into a long-term care facility still valid?
- Is the nursing home adequately staffed and handling coronavirus well?
- Can professionals handle the caregiving better than you could at home?
A Few Examples of Home Improvements to Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones…
- Clear the excess. The elderly aren’t as steady on their feet like everyone else in the home. Make sure to remove any unnecessary items, rugs or even furniture that could possibly cause them to trip and hurt themselves.
- Practice good habits with the little ones. Along with clearing up excess items that could cause injuries, have the children practice picking up their toys and shoes. Explain to them the dangers of keeping items out in the common walking path. It may also be time to create a designated area for play and family time. This will minimize the chance of toys being tossed around the home. Read how to turn your attic into a children’s playroom!
- Create a safe zone for them. Turn an unused area of the house into an art center, meditation den, reading area, or physical therapy room. This room can be used in many ways that positively affect mental and physical health! Learn how you can maximize the space in your home.
- Bring the outside in! With the Midwest weather changing, going outside and getting fresh air will become more challenging as temperatures drop. Add a sunroom to bring natural lighting into your home! This space will be a small retreat for your loved ones. They can grow plants indoors and look outside large windows to keep their spirits high during the brisk coldness of winter.
You’re probably wondering if your family can take on such a large task with limited funds? The answer is yes! You can create safe spaces for the elderly with the rooms you already have. Read about maximizing the space in your home. Michael Gould and his team are very experienced in working with families to build a safe environment for aging homeowners and the elderly population.