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With the coronavirus pandemic hitting nursing homes and assisted living facilities especially hard, families are wondering whether they should bring their parents or other loved ones home. It is a tough decision with no easy answers.
The number of coronavirus cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the country continues to grow. A Washington state nursing home was one of the first clusters of coronavirus reported in the United States, with at least 37 deaths associated with the facility. NBC news reported on April 16 that coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities across 29 states had soared to 5,670. "In New Jersey," NBC added, "the virus has spread to more than 95 percent of the state’s 375 long-term care facilities, according to state health officials."
In an effort to contain the virus’s spread, most long-term care facilities are limiting or excluding outside visitors, making it hard to check on loved ones. Social activities within the facility may also be cancelled, leading to social isolation for residents. In addition, long-term care facilities face staffing shortages even in the best of times. With the virus affecting staff as well as residents, facilities are having trouble providing needed care. Assisted living facilities, which are not heavily regulated, may have greater trouble containing the virus than nursing homes because their staff is not necessarily medically trained.
With this in mind, many families are considering bringing their loved ones home. A Harvard epidemiologist is warning that nursing homes are not the best place to house the vulnerable elderly at this time. And a local judge in Dallas has recommended that families remove their loved ones from infected facilities. Before taking this extreme step, however, you need to consider the following questions:
Bringing a family member home is a hard decision and it depends on the individual circumstances of each family. For more on the considerations involved, click here and here.