It has been several months since Covid-19 has entered the public consciousness. It is a worldwide threat, with barely anywhere on the globe remaining unscathed. It also seems as though we’re going to have to contend with it for quite a while, as there is no vaccine sign in the immediate future.
Immunocompromised individuals have a higher infection risk, and that could prove deadly for them. What is particularly concerning, though, is what’s happening in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They are being hit hard by the virus, which worries the relatives of individuals who live there.
Let’s examine why Covid-19 is such a pernicious threat in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
What We Know About the Coronavirus
There is quite a bit now that we know about the virus and how it spreads. Consider this:
- The virus is spread mostly by person-to-person contact, through droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks
- 80% of US Covid-19 deaths are older individuals
- 59% of those aged 65-84 require hospitalization if they show symptoms
As you can see, there is a higher risk for older individuals who catch the virus. Younger deaths are occurring, but it is older people, as well as the immunocompromised, who are in the most danger.
Since mostly older individuals live in assisted living and nursing homes, it makes sense that these would be a hotbed for Covid-19 deaths.
The Medical Problems of Individuals in These Facilities
Assisted living facilities and nursing homes often house older adults who:
- Are immunocompromised because of organ replacement
- Can easily catch a condition like pneumonia
- Aren’t mentally sharp enough to know to protect themselves
The issue is twofold. First, many of those in these living circumstances, because of their advanced age or preexisting conditions, are likely to react badly to the virus.
Second, some of the older adults who live in these conditions aren’t mentally sharp enough to fully understand what is happening in the world. Some might have dementia, in which case they aren’t able to protect themselves from conditions where person-to-person spread is likely.
Many of the older adults who live in assisted living and nursing homes don’t know how or why they need to protect themselves. They are a captive audience that waits for the virus to come to them.
Some of These Facilities Don’t Provide the Best Care
In a perfect world, the employees at these places would go out of their way to help their patients. In the better facilities, this is probably taking place. The implementation of extra safeguards is likely saving vulnerable lives.
However, the numbers indicate that isn’t happening in lots of these facilities. The staff don’t care enough to have those safeguards, like masks for themselves and the residents. They’re not taking the time for extra cleanliness, and they are not containing the virus sufficiently.
In some cases, it is indifference, and in some, it is incompetence. Either situation is potentially lethal for these residents, who don’t usually have anywhere to go. It’s a sad state of affairs, and the pandemic isn’t going anywhere, despite several states opening up and seeing a resurgence in infection numbers.
What to Do for Your Older Relatives
What everyone does to help this situation is going to depend on several factors. If you have an older relative in assisted living or a nursing home, then the first thing to do is call or go there to see what’s happening. See what safety precautions the staff is taking, and then judge what the most appropriate action is.
If the facility is taking the proper precautions, then you might need to take no action. You can check on your relative more frequently, for your peace of mind and theirs.
If you hear that infections have surfaced in the facility, or you see unsafe conditions, you might have to consider pulling them out of there so you can take care of them yourself, at least for the moment.
Doubtless, the situation is not ideal. Your relative is in assisted living or a nursing home for a reason, and you might not have the skills or training to give them what they need.
However, these are extraordinary circumstances. You must do what’s possible to help those who cannot help themselves. You owe it to your vulnerable family members.
Look at the situation and come up with the best option. In a role reversal, you would want your relatives to help you.