Should I pull my parents out of the retirement home? Here are questions you need to ask first – West Central Tribune

Posted: April 6, 2020 at 5:56 pm


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Are they safer at home, with me?

Maybe, experts say but you need to ask yourself some important questions before deciding that.

First, some perspective. In Minnesota, the coronavirus has found its way inside at least 47 Minnesota nursing homes or assisted living facilities, state health officials said Friday, April 3. There are several hundred such facilities in the state, and all are on heightened alert for any signs of illness. So far in Minnesota, none has experienced a devastating outbreak such as a one in a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., linked to 37 deaths or a veterans home in Holyoke, Mass., where at least eight residents have died.

The majority of those 47 facilities have exactly one confirmed case, health officials have said, crediting vigilance by facility staff, as well as a state response regimen put in place months ago.

But the question remains: Where is mom or dad safer?

Its a personalized decision based on your ability to potentially care for your loved one outside the facility, says Dr. Emily Downing, vice president of medical operations, home care and senior care for Allina Health.

First, Downing says, does the resident have physical limitations? Can they get around your house? Wash and bath themselves? What about managing their medications if they require that?

Usually the reason they ended up living in a communal care setting is because they need assistance that family members cant provide, she says.

But even if youre able to care for the person, or he or she can live independently, youre not done asking questions.

Currently, nearly every nursing home or long-term care center in the nation is banning visitors, and many are screening staff daily. Theyre attempting to isolate the entire facility. Can you say the same for your home?

If you or anyone in your family is regularly interacting with people outside your house by virtue of your job, for example doctors warn against taking your elderly loved one in.

Is taking them out of their facility, which is currently in lockdown, really going to reduce their risk of exposure? Downing asks.

It might. If only one member of your household leaves for groceries once a week and is careful, that certainly creates fewer chances for the virus to get inside as opposed to the numerous workers who arrive each day at care centers and then go home.

If its possible for an older grandparent or parent to move in with a family and that family is social distancing meticulously thats a good alternative, says Dr. John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology at University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, in an interview for the Bay Area News Group. But its often not possible.

If youve gotten this far, youre still not done yet.

Try as you might to avoid it, someone in your house might still get sick, Downing notes.

Can you isolate the loved one? she asks. If the loved one requires a lot of care, then you wont be able to isolate them. At home you wouldnt have the protective equipment that they have at the facility.

If not, would your loved one be able to return to the nursing home? Some facilities recommend placing residents under two-week quarantine after returning for an absence to ensure theyre not bringing the virus in.

Given all the dynamics, state health officials are neutral on the issue.

We are certainly not in a position of dictating that answer, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said when asked whether she could offer guidance to families thinking about bringing their loved ones home to ride out the pandemic. I would have to refer that to private family decisions and the care provider.

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Should I pull my parents out of the retirement home? Here are questions you need to ask first - West Central Tribune

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April 6th, 2020 at 5:56 pm

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