With COVID, senior facility care has become more concerning. The isolation, the threat of infection of COVID, the extra precautions at senior facilities – with so many changes and so many downfalls for residents. COVID doesn’t seem to want to disappear but reform into new variants, usually less severe and sneaking through vaccinations, but can still be a bad issue for seniors.
Not only COVID, but even more sicknesses can affect the residents. There is “monkey pox” plus colds, flu, shingles and such. With people In such close proximity, sicknesses can spread. Healthier, younger ones can often recover well, but older or compromised seniors can get quite sick, or even die.
Many families have opted to take the senior out of these facilities to live at their homes. The family needs to be ever so careful not to infect the household with COVID, as well as take over the care that was given at the facility (many people are unprepared for this, and the family situation gets tense).
Many seniors have already succumbed to or suffered and recovered from COVID in care facilities. There is so much angst, anger, disappointment, and such over the facility actions or inactions. There is guilt over not seeing loved ones before passing or just to hug. The staff have to protect all residents, not just your parent, and tough choices need to be made.
When caregivers spread COVID in the facilities, which has happened many times, the elderly are especially vulnerable. One facility lost ½ of its residents because a facility caregiver had COVID but no symptoms, though passed on the illness. The anger from relatives is understandable. Vaccinated workers might still wear masks as variants can be spread without symptoms.
Seniors are deprived of social contact while quarantining - from COVID, from shingles, from flu, etc.. Make sure to FaceTime, call, write, send cards and such. Send books and crafts. Send clothes so they can freshen up with some style or comfort. Help them feel loved and give them something to do. Remind them the shots (flu, shingles, COVID, etc.) are available and later they can have visitors and visit each other once everyone is vaccinated.
Make sure they are doing anything active. Are they pacing in their room, lifting weights, doing stretches on chairs or beds, dancing, playing shuffleboard ,or such? If they can go outside for vitamin D (the sun), encourage it.
My father lives in a retirement facility with varying types of care as needed to progress through. They are doing in-room doctor visits, taking temperatures often, and closed the dining area for months (though they could pick up a bagged meal). He’s more fortunate, being in an independent duplex, with a car and a dog. The dog is wonderful company for him. He can leave the facility if he uses a mask and has his temperature taken when leaving and coming back. They opened the dining area to one person per table, then increased as more were vaccinated. As of now, the dining room has opened up and vaccinated guests are allowed to eat with each other.
Costs may have gone up due to more COVID care and adjustments. They don’t want to give a discount (where they may have prior) because they need the funds to function. Many extra services have gone away and may not come back.
Missing contact with loved ones is tough – it’s hard to see both sides of the story. One is an emotional side while the other is a business side. Each one is important but are entangled. Both have their own challenges.
You can advocate and talk to the administration, but realize they are fielding calls from many people. They might help you see the struggles they are facing, but you might help them understand what is lacking in their care, whether allowing more contact of sorts (even just to talk) or allowing walking the halls with masks (even with a nurse present), and how they can or cannot accommodate with the money and constraints they face. Try to come up with solutions they can try to implement.
Take care to do your part – engage in ways you can, and maybe other things can happen to help, while waiting out the COVID restrictions. It is taking its toll on everyone.