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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Alternatives to Nursing Homes: Protecting Your Elderly Loved Ones During a Pandemic

COVID-19 poses a severe health risk to the general population, and our seniors are especially vulnerable. According to the CDC, 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older.

In response to growing concerns about protecting elderly loved ones during this pandemic, California elder law attorneys are fielding an increase of questions regarding viable alternatives to nursing home care.

While each family situation has its own dynamics and individual choices must be made accordingly, we hope that the following suggestions will help during this challenging time.

COVID-19: Caring For Your Elders

The increased risk of COVID-19 infection to seniors makes social distancing and sanitization protocols especially important as we consider senior care options.

Many of our older loved ones remain able to care for themselves, while others require more assistance or permanent residential care.

In any situation, the following safety precautions should be maintained:

  • Limited group activities and external visitors
  • Social distancing of 6 feet during interactions
  • Sanitization of high-touch common areas and hard surfaces
  • Personal protective measures such as gloves and face masks
  • Health screening for staff and visitors

4 Care Options for Your Loved One During the Pandemic

1. In-Home Care

Many seniors remain able to care for themselves in the comfort of their own homes. If you have a loved one who needs minimal to no living assistance, allowing them to remain safe in their own environment is the best option during the pandemic.

Reducing outside contact with others and establishing protocols for visitors to your loved one’s home, such as family, friends, and health service providers remains vital.

In-home services are also an option for seniors who live independently but may require limited help, such as light housekeeping or medical check-ups. Be sure that the medical providers and in-home care professionals you employ follow CDC distancing guidelines and health screening protocols.

Finally, talk with your loved one about limiting social outings and how to best protect themselves should they leave their residence during this time.

2. Technology Advances

Independent seniors living apart from family still need regular contact to reduce feelings of isolation.

The use of cell phones, email, and group meetings such a ZOOM, Skype, and Facetime applications can ensure that seniors living alone have a means and ability to reach out in case of loneliness or emergency.

It is a good idea to schedule regular telephone or facetime meetings to check in routinely on the health and welfare of your loved one. MedicAlert devices and services are also crucial for independent seniors in case of emergency.

3. Assisted Living

If your loved one requires more care than can be provided at a private home, assisted living facilities are a good option.

Newly imposed regulations have been adopted and implemented at assisted living communities to reduce the community spread of disease, including COVID-19. Senior care facilities also employ a broad staff, ensuring that your loved one will always be attended to in a time of need.

Good candidates for assisted living communities include seniors who:

  • suffer dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • need assistance with daily routines such as bathing and self-care
  • whose family members cannot self-isolate, providing safety from exposure

4. Nursing Home Care

If your loved one has complex medical conditions requiring consistent and high-level medical attention, nursing home care potentially remains a better option than in-home or assisted living care.

Careful examination of potential nursing homes should yield a good sense of the health care and sanitization protocols enacted to ensure the safety of the residents and staff.

How California Elder Law Attorneys Can Help

For California residents seeking additional advice on how to protect elderly loved ones during the COVID 19 pandemic, please contact us today to speak with a California elder law attorney today. Our experience in working with seniors and their families may yield suggestions and insights that provide the answers you're looking for in this difficult time.


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