Trends We Have Noticed
Sunrise, sunset and lunar cycles. Without some divine intervention, some things will never change. But as we know, given time and circumstance, most things in life will change. Trends, it would seem, change like the tides. One big “circumstance” that impacted all of us in a major way during the last year has been COVID-19. This pandemic forced many of us to stay at home more and interact less.
Those who have been caring for a declining senior in their lives, possibly with an already compromised immune system, have been very diligent about managing the interaction between their beloved seniors and the outside world. In many cases, even close family members have not seen their aging loved ones for fear of unknowingly passing along the COVID virus. Because of these self-imposed quarantines, many families have been forced to find ways to manage care at home.
A long time ago…
In situations where in the ancient past (pre-2020), a declining senior may have been admitted to a nursing home for skilled care, the preference with many families now is to keep their beloved seniors at home – at least for a while longer.
According to a January 25, 2021 report in Skilled Care News, the South saw an occupancy decline of approximately 15% from 2019 to the beginning of 2021. This may be a temporary decline – time will tell how long this change lasts.
However one of the trends that we have noticed at our Elder Law practice is that many of the decision making family members are taking more time before making an admission decision to a skilled care facility. Many have been afraid to admit a loved one for fear that they would expose them to COVID. Given the high COVID rates in many facilities, this was a valid concern – but thankfully, COVID rates in Skilled Care Facilities are declining according to CMS data.
Another factor that may have affected a nursing home admission decision, is that prior months, families were not allowed to visit their Loved Ones in a skilled care facility. Again this appears to be changing. Many of the skilled care facilities that we interact with in our state are now allowing family members to schedule visits with their loved ones in a facility.
Trends we have noticed
COVID has forced many families to consider their options. Thanks to technology and other options, many seniors (as reflected by the above data) are choosing a different care path. Some things we have noticed lately are:
- Many family members are choosing to keep their loved ones at home longer. COVID has forced (or at least strongly influenced) families to make the “stay at home” decision – where in the past, they would have made the “go to the nursing home” decision.
- Many families are juggling their collective schedules to make the “stay at home” decision happen. Some family members are responsible for one-off tasks, like picking up groceries for Mom, while others are providing hands-on care.
- Remote caregivers. Children are finding that many tasks can be done remotely. Remote efforts frees up the local family members to focus on hands-on care.
- Non-medical care appears to be a strong option. Hiring non-medical caregivers to fill the time gap allows the adult children to continue to work knowing that Mom will be properly cared for at home.
- Medical care (typically prescribed by Mom’s doctor and paid by Medicare) allows the declining senior to continue to receive the ongoing medical care they need at home and have that care supervised by a medical professional.
- Technology. Advances in technology are helping to make it possible for the adult children caregivers to help their parents at home while they are at work. Tools like medication reminders, cameras, fall detectors, GPS alerts, virtual medicine and virtual vital signs monitoring (amount others) are helping to make the “stay at home” decision a reality for many.
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