According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are at a higher risk for severe illness as a result of Covid-19 (“coronavirus”) .
However, there is a select group of residents that have characteristics that put them at an even higher risk of illness or death related to an infectious disease due to cognitive limitations, which impair their ability to respond to an emergency. This group includes those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
The CDC reports that dementia does not increase the risk for respiratory illnesses caused by the coronavirus. However, people with dementia often have an increased age and other risky health conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes that may increase their chances of being infected.
The Alzheimer’s Association indicates that “people with Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementia may forget to wash their hands or take other recommended precautions to prevent illness. In addition, diseases like the coronavirus may worsen cognitive impairment due to dementia.”
The majority of individuals with dementia depend on care provided by others to manage their daily activities, medications, financial needs, and for many that means residing in nursing homes or some type of long-term care facility.
For those of you with loved ones residing in a nursing home or long-term care facility while battling Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, the coronavirus pandemic is an extremely challenging time.
In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus in nursing homes, the federal government has restricted visitation to these facilities.
Therefore, it is imperative to develop a plan that allows you to stay connected with your loved one so that they can hear a familiar voice and that you can ensure their needs are being met. A plan of action could include:
- Talking with the facility to put in place a plan that allows for communication between the facility and the family;
- Requesting a special visit with your loved one if allowed but only if you do not have any signs and symptoms of illness;
- Sending cards or handwritten notes to your loved one;
- Making frequent telephone calls;
- Making a daily video greeting that your loved one can receive with the help of a caretaker; and
- Visiting through a window or glass door if applicable.
It is critically important to stay engaged with your loved one and your loved one’s facility especially during this difficult time as direct care workers, such as aides and personal care attendants, who provide most of the daily support to older adults battling dementia are likely overworked and exhausted due the ongoing pandemic.
Without the family being able to visit and assist in any way, these workers are now tasked with complete care and evaluation of your loved on for the foreseeable future.
We are in the middle of an unprecedented time and for families it can be very disconcerting to not see their loved one, especially a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. However, by developing an effective game plan that helps keep you connected to both your loved one and your loved one’s facility, you can have peace of mind for you and your loved one.
The attorneys at Creighton Macaluso Law Firm, LLC have years of experience assisting and helping residents and their families in protecting their rights. Contact them today to schedule a completely free consultation if you or someone you know is concerned with the response a nursing home, assisted living, or residential facility is taking to the coronavirus.