Debunking Senior Living COVID-19 Myths
It’s difficult to watch the news these days without hearing senior living COVID-19 myths. At Querencia, we frequently talk to older adults considering a move to a senior living community about these misconceptions. We’re offering the following information to help clarify what is true and what is a myth about the coronavirus and the senior living industry; we hope this will alleviate fear and assist you and your loved ones in moving forward.
Myth 1: Communities Aren’t Safe
Perhaps the biggest concern for many people is the safety of their loved one(s) residing in a senior living community. Older adults are at higher risk than other populations, especially if they have underlying medical conditions. Fortunately, team members are already specially trained to focus on the health and safety of these residents and staff. While retirement communities currently are home for many seniors, it’s important to remember that these communities are also businesses with diligent protocols for operating successfully during challenging times. Like all businesses, senior living communities follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health department regulations and recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to residents and their families.
What COVID-19 safety precautions are in place for communities like Querencia (a Lifespace community):
- A universal policy requiring all team members, visitors and vendors to wear masks
- Screening upon entrance to the community for all team members and approved visitors to check for elevated temperatures or signs of respiratory illness
- Prohibition of workers entering the community if exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses
- Notification to all residents and their families, team members, and responsible parties when residents or staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19
Rest assured, the health and well-being of our residents, their families and our team members remains our priority during this pandemic. Locally, additional protective measures are recommended for older adults (age 65+) or those who are immunocompromised. However, for specific details of a community’s safety regulations during COVID-19, it’s best to reach out to them directly.
Don’t be fooled by senior living COVID-19 myths about the safety of our residents and staff. The new risk-based guidelines for Austin and Travis County set out five distinct stages of risk, from the lowest threat, Stage 1, through the most serious, Stage 5, along with recommended behaviors for each stage. See our greater community’s current stage of risk and detailed recommendations here.
Myth 2: Residents Are Isolated
Senior living communities are taking safety precautions to protect their residents and staff from COVID-19. At Querencia, this includes social distancing and encouraging community members to stay home as much as possible in accordance with Austin’s Stay Home, Mask, and Otherwise Be Safe order. However, ensuring our residents have an active social life remains important. Most communities, like Querencia, restrict gatherings in common areas and individual living spaces, but encourage independent residents to take a walk, get fresh air and participate in community-sponsored activities. For individuals requiring higher levels of care, specific guidance is given to assist these residents, based on their individual needs, schedules and preferences.
Here are just a few ways Querencia ensures our residents remain connected and active:
- We continue to coordinate activities with measures in place for safety, like creating gratitude notes for our local mailman and other indoor activities.
- We welcome pets, which have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and increase socialization for older adults.
- We stream exercise classes, movies and lectures over our in-house TV station.
Myth 3: Residents Are Inactive
Despite the senior living COVID-19 myths you may have read or heard, an active lifestyle is always important for the health of older adults — even during a pandemic. Although communities work closely with local, state, and federal agencies to maintain necessary safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, opportunities remain for residents to remain physically active. The pandemic has brought more accessibility for online offerings to senior living communities, such as exercise programs. This may even be more convenient for some residents with physical limitations. For more ideas, see our Tips for Staying Active While Sheltering in Place.
Residents of senior living communities are also adapting to new ways of learning to stay intellectually engaged. Many communities offer programs for participants to continue their education during the pandemic, which has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory. These types of programs offer individuals the opportunity to connect socially, as well.
Myth 4: Family Members Aren’t Allowed Contact With Residents
While visits are now often restricted to ensure the safety of residents and their families, rest assured that family members are always welcome to call their loved ones, drop off essential items or gifts and conduct video calls with residents. They may also assist with critical care appointments. While your access to see a loved one may be restricted to certain areas, every senior living community is different. Please contact your specific community for more details and to confirm rules and regulations at any time. As cities reopen, COVID-19 guidelines for residents in senior living communities may change over time, as administrators make adjustments to meet the individual needs and circumstances of their local community. These should always remain in accordance with all required local, state and federal laws, rules and regulations, as well as those of the senior living community itself.
At Querencia, we also recommend that loved ones take all recommended precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep our residents and staff safe from harm. We believe it’s important to stay updated on the latest resources and information. Stay informed about COVID-19 In Austin with this important hub for coronavirus information.
Even during a pandemic, Querencia remains Austin’s foremost Life Care community, designed to exceed your expectations. To learn more about how we’re debunking senior living COVID-19 myths, and how our community enables an active lifestyle while working to ensure the health and safety of residents and staff, fill out the form at the bottom of this page.