If you've had the news on for even just a moment in the last month, you know that the novel Coronavirus has changed the world as we knew it. One way that things are changing is how people are approaching long-term care for their elderly and disabled family members. The thought of putting our loved ones in harm's way might mean that we have to rethink how we provide for them when they are most in need.
What Is Different?
The need for care has not changed. But with all the media attention surrounding assisted living and nursing home deaths, how we provide that care, at least until the pandemic has cleared, likely will. And decisions must be made each day on how that care is given.
When it comes to caring for a loved one, you do, fortunately, have options. You can, of course, choose to provide care yourself, but this could mean that you have to quit a job or neglect your own needs. The other two options are to push forward with assisted living/nursing care or choose an in-home care provider. All three of these have pros and cons.
Providing care yourself means that you will have to take time away from other aspects of your life. This might be your job, hobbies, romantic relationships, or children. But it is the least expensive if you are not going to sacrifice income to perform this labor of love.
Moving your loved one into assisted living can be a costly solution, averaging $3,600 per month nationally. Home care might be more affordable if your loved one needs less than 40 hours of care each week, and that care is for basic needs, such as cooking, cleaning, and taking medication. Keep in mind, however, that many factors determine the cost.
How to Pay
If you choose residential or in-home care, you'll need to figure out how to pay. If your senior loved one doesn't have substantial savings, one potential source of funding is selling their home. But since the pandemic has changed the housing market, you'll want to do some research into how it's affected your particular area. Some cities and towns continue to see extremely competitive markets, while others hover at about the midway point between a seller's and buyer's market. For example, Hueytown is not as competitive a market, with homes averaging 69 days on the market before they're sold.
Which Option Is Safest?
Obviously, your number one concern for your loved one is their well-being. So how, exactly, do you make the right decision given the virus's ability to spread and its propensity for disproportionately harming seniors?
That is a tough call and one that you must make based on your family circumstances. On one hand, care facilities are uniquely equipped to provide hands-on care. An assisted living center will have a set of cleaning protocols and will be able to react if a patient shows symptoms of any contagious disease. On the other hand, a private care nurse will be limited in the number of people they are exposed to each day, meaning your loved one is less likely to come into contact with a harmful illness.
Your decision will affect your family for years to come. Don't feel pressured to choose one option over the other. At the end of the day, how your loved one is cared for should be determined by their unique needs, your family's ability to pay, and available care options. And although COVID-19 has changed the way we look at traditional care options, the truth is that assisted living, nursing care, and independent living are still likely a safer option than allowing your loved one to live alone in their golden years.