Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly presented us with a new normal. This pandemic has affected aspects of life in some way. This is true for assisted living communities as well. Are there benefits to moving to assisted living during COVID?
Previously, these communities were seen as safe havens for older adults. However, many of us are insecure in deciding to move to assisted living during COVID. Why? Perhaps a lack of information or misinformation. You may fear being isolated or regard these senior living communities as a high-risk area for infection. Maybe, you are not even sure how to move to assisted living and are unclear about the path you need to take.
There are, in fact, definite benefits to living in such facilities during COVID. This article will clarify what a move during COVID entails and what the potential benefits may be.
Benefits of Assisted Living during COVID
1. Direct Access to Healthcare Services
There are assisted living communities that offer on-site primary care, medication management, prescription refills, COVID-19 testing, and physiotherapy. Often, residents have access to COVID-19 vaccines before the rest of the older adults outside these communities through on-site vaccine clinics. To ensure physical fitness, communities have fitness centers as well as outdoor spaces. The added benefit is that no one else uses these spaces other than the residents, which decreases the risk of exposure.
2. Tight Infection Prevention Rules
Although assisted living facilities have always had stringent cleaning procedures, their guidelines have become even tighter since the pandemic. These guidelines are enforced by each state with guidance from The Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC recommends that these facilities regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and shared areas with hospital-grade disinfectants. This includes areas such as lobbies, hallways, and furniture and equipment. In addition, facilities schedule regular handwashing by both residents and staff members.
Staff undergoes training on best practices to prevent the spread of COVID. They are screened before each shift to assess whether they have any symptoms. If they do, they are not permitted to come to work.
3. Assistance with Any Necessities
During the pandemic, repairs and maintenance to one’s home are often problematic. Sometimes, you must wait for extended periods before someone will be available to assist you. You may be without power or water or a broken window for a while. This is not a problem in assisted living as this is attended to by staff or contracted staff.
Residents do not need to go out to buy groceries or pick up medicines. There are delivery systems in place for these communities. This prevents them from getting exposed to possible infections, bad weather, as well as other dangers.
Moving to Assisted Living During COVID
What to do before your move to an assisted living community:
1. Schedule and plan your move
Your moving date and time, if possible should be scheduled with the senior living community in advance. This is done to allow other residents to distance themselves physically.
Furthermore, it is advisable to predetermine where your furniture and belongings will be placed. This may be done by asking for pictures and measurements before the move. Another alternative may be a virtual tour.
2. Check local regulations
Each state may have specific regulations related to moving into assisted living. These regulations often rapidly change should there be an outbreak. Check the news as well as government websites.
3. Find out how many people are permitted to assist with the move
Facilities may have a limit to the number of people allowed to assist with the move, or they may have other regulations. Check with them before moving in. Ensure that the moving company is prepared to work in an assisted living community. Currently, some movers may not be able to work with seniors.
4. Screen yourself as well as moving staff
Some facilities require the moving staff to be screened before the move. The moving team is required to wear cloth face masks as well as other PPE. Furniture, as well as other belongings, may be required to be sanitized before entering the facility. It is also essential to have a COVID test for when you move into the facility, as most facilities will request this.
5. Prepare yourself mentally
When moving to any new residence, it can be stressful adjusting to the changes this brings. This may often mean new routines and changes in your daily life and the people in it. To help ease the transition, bring with you your hobbies and communication devices.
What Happens after You Have Moved into Assisted Living?
- Facilities may require a seven-to-fourteen-day quarantine after arrival.
- Throughout this period, new residents are checked daily for any symptoms of the virus.
- A COVID test may be done seven and fourteen days after the move.
- Meals will be given in your living area.
- No travel will be permitted outside of the community within the first two weeks.
Activities for Assisted Living during COVID
A significant concern for many is being isolated from friends and family in these communities. You may be worried about a lack of recreation and entertainment. However, we often forget how life outside these facilities has been affected. Many recreational areas have been closed in our local communities, activities canceled, social gatherings prohibited, and movement in public areas restricted.
Senior living communities have now spent more than a year perfecting safe socialization and entertainment. Socialization has been enhanced through the following:
- Virtual discussions
- Interactive discussions
- Coffee dates through windows
- Curbside visits
- Safe visit structures
Entertainment such as spiritual studies, fitness classes, book clubs, and many more activities are organized and modified to prevent the infection or spread of COVID-19. Facilities will match you with people, groups, and events that will fit your interests.
Top 3 Points
1. Assisted Living facilities serve as a senior’s safe bubble where only other residents and healthy staff have access.
2. Safety and hygiene procedures are made even stricter in Assisted Living facilities to safeguard the older adults living in the community.
3. Seniors who live in Assisted Living facilities no longer have to worry about contacting home maintenance or going out for necessities as these are being taken care of by the staff.
Nowhere has been left untouched by this pandemic. However, these communities have gone to great lengths to help ensure the health and safety of their residents. You must find out the information you need by asking the right questions before moving to any facility. Once you have decided, take the points mentioned above and ensure a safe and rewarding move that benefits you.
Although moving into Assisted Living may be a daunting decision, the move may be a necessity when you feel that living alone poses a danger to you or that you cannot perform ADLs and IADLs without assistance. Living alone in these cases may pose a greater risk to your health and safety than COVID.