By Michael Gill, CEO TXSLL: I count myself lucky to live in Central Texas during the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus far the virus’ impact has been quite light when compared to both the rest of the country as well as the rest of the world. In addition our local leadership has been both foresighted and enlightened (shout out to Mayor Steve Adler, who recognized the danger of large crowds and canceled SXSW on March 6, even before Austin had its first diagnosed case). The crisis isn’t easy to ignore, though, when grocery shelves are empty, people are wearing masks, stores and restaurants are closed, everybody is working from home, and unemployment is suddenly rampant.
The senior living industry has undergone its own set of shocks, as families are no longer allowed to visit loved ones and communal activities are canceled. Fortunately assisted living and memory care communities in Austin have thus far withstood the coronavirus siege quite successfully. I am only aware of a single death attributed to Covid-19 in all Independent Living, Assisted Living or Memory Care communities in the three county Austin area, a 95 year old woman.
While even a single death is tragic, when measured by the unfortunate track record of nursing homes, the senior living industry’s track record in Austin is notable. This is not to say there are no risks in the senior living industry in times of Covid-19. State wide, about 36 percent of all deaths due to Covid-19 happen in nursing homes, and 9 percent in Assisted Living communities (78 Assisted Living deaths state-wide due to Covid-19 as of May 1, 2020).
But there are risks to living outside of the senior living industry as well. Some unsupervised seniors can be a danger to themselves, self-neglect is common, and caregiver issues can be insurmountable. In these circumstances, and despite Covid-19 considerations, Assisted Living and Memory Care is often still the best answer, even in a pandemic.
From what I’ve seen, many families are frozen with indecision as to when to move their loved one into a senior living community. Usually they are waiting for the signal we’re “all clear” from coronavirus. Unfortunately I don’t foresee an end to our coronavirus worries for at least another year or longer. Senior living communities will be the last segment of society to ease restrictions due to their unique vulnerability to the disease. However, there may be a window (or multiple windows) during the pandemic when families feel comfortable making a move. The time to prepare is now, before a tenuous situation becomes a crisis. With the help of Texas Senior Living Locators families can arrange video tours of communities, get their questions answered, assess their options, and have the groundwork laid for when a move is deemed necessary and appropriate.
Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions regarding senior living for a loved one: Michael Gill, (512) 402-2795.
photo cred: Carmen’s Legacy Productions