Oregon experienced a recent and unusual surge in COVID-19 cases, leading to a brief return to “Extreme Risk” designation for a majority of the state. Fears are still widespread despite the availability of three different vaccines and improved treatment methods for COVID-19. Over a year has gone by since the first lockdown in March of 2020, but many are still anxious about stepping out of the safety of their homes. The question on many seniors’ minds is, “Is it safe yet to move into a retirement home?” Not only is it safe, but this article will explain why it is a safer choice to move than to stay at home.
The fears, especially in Oregon, are understandable. The Beaver State is comprised of a diverse population with tendencies to ideological extremes. Much of the population is safety conscious, trusting the leadership of the governor and her team of experts, willing to postpone “business as usual” to ensure the safety of its most vulnerable citizens. Yet a significant portion of Oregon is made of freedom-loving, fresh-air breathing independent-minded folks who reject government coercion to get vaccinated or shutter their businesses. This ideological diversity is precisely the reason many Oregonians feel unsafe outside their homes—because the two sides disagree and feel unsafe around each other.
But the fear of extremes is a red herring. In other words, the question about moving from one’s home into a residential care facility has nothing to do with being safe at a restaurant or a park. The question is whether one’s home is as safe as a licensed care community, and the answer to that is a simple “no” for the following reasons:
- Living at home means interacting with the general population via deliveries, repair workers, landscapers, retail stores, etc. Viruses and illnesses are most often caught around unfamiliar persons whose medical condition is unknown. On the other hand, a community of healthcare workers who have training and experience with preventing spread of pathogens, and furthermore are vaccinated against COVID-19, is immeasurably safer than the alternatives.
- Living at home may encourage isolation, which is associated with a whole list of negative outcomes, including a 50% increased risk of dementia. Even in the best stay-at-home scenarios, visitors or family will be available for assistance and relationship only a fraction of the time. At a residential care facility or assisted living facility, friendly, knowledgeable staff are there all hours of every day. Of course, one can always enjoy alone-time in a facility, but isolation will never be an option.
- Living at home can be physically dangerous, even if the home was built using the most modern construction standards. Stairs, appliances, fuel sources, kitchen utensils, pest control and tools are only the beginning of a list of potential dangers that can keep loved ones awake at night. Consider how meals are prepared and with which ingredients. Planned, healthy, delicious meals will only be consistent at a caring community.
- Living at home can be more expensive, especially if a quality caregiver is being paid to devote several hours each day visiting the home. Assisted living facilities utilize economies of scale, which ensure the most value for the dollar for personal care, meal preparation, medication management and other activities of daily living.
There are many other reasons to strongly consider moving into a licensed facility sooner than later, but these four alone should at least prepare families for serious and frank conversations with their loved ones. If you are an Oregonian feeling unsafe, you are not alone. However, if you are in the Portland area and need a safe, comfortable and enjoyable home for your aging loved-one, please consider Senior Haven RCF. We lead with the heart and provide healthcare expertise like no other community in the region.