Senior living and senior care, in general, has seen steady growth over the years, with baby boomers reaching older age and people living longer. But nothing prepared the senior care market for COVID-19. All senior living sectors were affected, and although the loss of life has been incalculable, some positive changes are also occurring.
Market demand for senior living has fluctuated wildly over this past year, with much of the sector taking a hard hit. Estimates are that the long-term care industry will lose 94 billion over the two years encompassing 2020 and 2021. The financial losses are significant, but there are also changes in attitudes about senior living. Some of these persist, with families changing how they view institutional care. How and when the senior care industry will rebound is open to speculation, but there are signs of improvement with an increase in vaccinations.
The Current State of Senior Living Facilities
The current state of assisted living and nursing home facilities is driven by consumers and their families’ attitudes about the safety of these communities. Anecdotal information points to a “pause” in people’s willingness during the pandemic to move to senior living facilities that restricted visitation and had significant outbreaks of COVID-19. It is helpful to separate assisted living facilities from nursing homes to understand the impact COVID-19 had on admissions then and now.
Nursing homes were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, with nearly 183,000 deaths of residents and staff. Last year nursing home admissions fell by 15% and probably more. These numbers reflect families taking their loved ones out of nursing homes, the reluctance of people to move to nursing homes, and deaths in these facilities.
Assisted living communities also suffered decreases in admissions and reports of families moving loved ones out of assisted living. Mandatory quarantines, limited visitations, and COVID-19 outbreaks contributed to a record low 78.8% senior living occupancy in the first quarter of this year.
Vaccine Availability and Senior Living Admissions: Hope for the Future
Now the good news. With vaccine availability, senior living admissions are picking up. A renewed focus on the endemic problems in nursing homes has prompted changes in the industry, such as more accurate reporting and increasing pay for front-line staff. COVID cases among staff at long-term care facilities have dropped by more than 83% due to vaccine availability.
But, along with more optimism is a shift for many families away from traditional senior living to providing care at home. Even before the pandemic, COVID nursing homes had problems with infection control and high staff turnover. More and more families are opting for home care in place of nursing homes. And, the idea of restricted visitation in assisted living facilities highlighted problems with isolation and loneliness. In some parts of the country, families couldn’t see their loved ones for a year or more. Advocating for a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living has been a challenge.
The Emergence of Home Care as a Viable Option to Long-Term Care Facilities.
Home Care Assistance responds to the increasing need of families to keep their loved ones at home, for all of the reasons we have mentioned. Many families have already taken the step of using home care to safely and affordably keep their loved ones at home. Families are questioning the idea that assisted living or nursing home care is the only option. Let’s look at the unique ways Home Care Assistance can keep people at home, working with other professionals to provide supportive care now and for the future.
Loneliness was a problem before the pandemic and was exacerbated during COVID restrictions. The mental and physical health consequences of social isolation such as depression and anxiety are well documented. Home Care Assistance caregivers provide companionship focused on an individualized care plan that identifies interests and needs and offers much-needed companionship.
If a loved one has dementia, our trained staff of caregivers offer cognitive activities that improve memory and thinking skills. For others, Home Care Assistance caregivers can engage in conversation or other preferred activities.
Personal Care Assistance
Personal care assistance is what can make the difference between being able to stay at home or move to a facility. Depending on the state where you live, there may be additional medical services available.
- Assisting with walking and transferring from bed to wheelchair
- Bathing, dressing, and grooming assistance
- Medication reminders
- Toileting and incontinence care
- Status reporting to family
- Safety and fall prevention
- Ongoing wellness monitoring
If you think about your daily life, it consists of hundreds of activities that support your independence and keep you happy. When illness or disability affects someone's ability to remain independent or pursue their passions, Home Care Assistance can help by providing:
- Light housekeeping
- Meal preparation and nutrition
- Laundry and change of bed linens
- Grocery shopping and errands
- Transportation to social and recreational activities
- Assistance with light exercise and outdoor activity
- Companionship and community engagement
- Travel assistance
- Medication reminders
Every state dictates what caregivers can and can’t do. However, if someone needs medical support, there are ways to augment home care. There are situations when nursing home care is an appropriate choice if there is no viable way to provide extensive medical services at home.
Other supportive resources include Home Health which, although time-limited, can, along with home care, give enough support to help someone recover. Home Care Assistance works closely with home health agencies across the country to deliver safe and consistent care.
When someone discharges from home health, Home Care Assistance can step in to ensure that clients adhere to physical and occupational therapy goals. Care staff report problems or concerns and alert families to safety issues.
Home Care Assistance Supporting Independence and Well-Being
As we all emerge from a challenging year, Home Care Assistance is here to work with clients and families. Our mission is to provide a foundation of support that helps seniors wherever they are with compassionate and person-centered care.