Choosing a Senior Living Community During COVID-19

Choosing a senior living community can be challenging in the best of times. A lot of factors come into play. Which is the ideal location? What services and level of care does the senior need? How much does it cost? These and many other questions can cause a fair amount of stress.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the process even more challenging. For a while, some communities stopped taking new residents, drastically limited admissions, and/or required quarantine periods for new residents.

Now, senior living residences are slowly returning to pre-pandemic norms. However, the pandemic has added new questions and concerns to people’s selection of a senior living community. Here are a few tips on questions to ask during your search.

  • Masking and immunization policies. What are the policies, and does the senior feel comfortable with them? How might the policies affect their daily life?
  • Isolation protocols. If a resident or staff member shows symptoms of COVID or has been exposed, does the facility have isolation rules?
  • Visitation policies. What is the standard visiting policy? What about when a resident or staff member tests positive for COVID, and/or shows symptoms?
  • Resident to staff ratio. Just as with in-home care, senior living employers are coping with staffing shortages. Find out what the staffing levels are, and how that might affect care.
  • What activities are offered? One of the benefits of senior living is the opportunity for peer-to-peer socialization. Have activities resumed? If not, how does the senior living community keep residents healthy and engaged?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and county health departments continue to update their guidance for senior living residences. And, as the CDC notes, “Each community may face different risks and decide to put in place less restrictive or more restrictive protocols.” That means you may get different answers to your questions from facility to facility. The most important thing, of course, is to go with the situation that seems safest for the senior and will provide the best quality of life for them.