In the context of COVID, many families are wondering if an older relative would be better off moving out of their assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing facility. It’s not an easy question to answer.
The advantages of facility living. Facilities have staff on site 24/7 to assist with residents’ needs. They can provide meals and a comforting routine. Staff coordinate readily with medical personnel. Support can be ramped up as needed. With COVID protocols in place, there are usually limited opportunities for residents to engage with people they know.
Issues to consider about relocation.
- Exposure to COVID. If members of your household are going to work or school, will your loved one truly have less exposure than in a facility?
- Caregiving support. If your relative moves in with you, what level of support can you realistically offer? If into an apartment, do you have a home care agency lined up to help? Can they provide 24/7 care (the safest)? What are the agency’s COVID protocols? You don’t want caregivers bringing the virus into the home.
- Cost. What is the expense relative to the cost of facility living? Is this sustainable?
- Social isolation. Loneliness, boredom, and depression are devastating. Persons with dementia are declining rapidly under isolation, and deaths are increasing. (Weight loss, falls, and sudden frailty are signs of a big problem.) Assess your relative’s ability to connect with others in the facility as compared to the proposed new situation. Which is better?
- What if your loved one gets sick? How will you care for them? What if you get sick?
This is a difficult decision. You need to reflect upon the pros and cons with a realistic accounting of resources and capabilities. And consider implications for the future—when your relative’s needs may increase and/or the threats of COVID decrease.