Is it okay to move someone to long-term care now?
You need to weigh the risks to see what is right for your family
COVID-19 has hit long term care facilities particularly hard. States acted too late with too little intervention (New York made the problem worse by sending positive patients back to long term care facilities to infect others). In fact, 41% of all deaths from COVID-19 are attributed to residents or staff of long term care facilities. To protect residents, families were not allowed in-person visits. While restrictions have loosened, in-person visitation is still very limited. These visitation restrictions helped stem the virus in facilities but left many residents with psycho-social problems.
If you think it may be time for your relative to go to a long-term care facility, how do you weigh the risks? You need to figure out if being at home is more dangerous than being in a facility and risking exposure to COVID-19.
If your relative has dementia and is wandering or not eating or starting kitchen fires, then they are probably safer in a memory care unit. If you are their caregiver and you are up all night caring for their needs, or they are abusive to you, it is probably time to move.
What if the answer is not so clear cut? They are eating, but not very well. You need to take the car away but then they cannot get groceries or medication. They are very lonely and depressed. In these cases, you may want to try to patch together services at home to keep them there a little longer. An assessment done by a social service agency will suggest services that can help. The Extra Daughter can help with transportation and companionship.
Don't forget to account for your life too. If you find most of your time is spent dealing with your relatives and their issues and you cannot afford to do that, it should weigh heavily on your decision.
If you do decide to move your relative to long-term care, the good news is that many facilities have openings and, depending on your financial situation, you may be able to get into a place that normally has a long waiting list.
Each situation is different. Moving to a long term care facility is not a guaranteed way to contract COVID-19, but you should give the decision more thought than usual and weigh the higher than normal risks with the benefits.