More elderly people are opting to stay in senior living communities due to COVID-19

More elderly people are opting to stay in senior living communities due to COVID-19

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the elderly, there has been an increase in demand for senior living communities.

Elderly people
Elderly people/ iStock

Demand for places in senior living environments (often termed continuing care retirement communities) has risen rapidly during the past few months, driven mainly by the impact of COVID-19 on older adults. This is according to Barry Kaganson, CEO of Auria Senior Living, a leading developer and operator of senior living communities in South Africa. “There are many advantages to being in a senior living community at a time like this. People within our communities, as well as seniors considering their living options, are quickly realising this,” says Kaganson.

COVID-19 has had a markedly more negative impact on the elderly than on other sectors of the population. This is due to several factors. The elderly are at greater risk of a negative outcome if they contract COVID-19, which in turn is a source of stress and worry. The greater isolation necessitated by COVID-19 restrictions carries with it exacerbated loneliness and depression, particularly for older people. Alongside this are the practical difficulties of living in isolation such as shopping, visiting doctors, having non-urgent medical tests or procedures done, and more.

READ: Elderly Durban couple says still battling COVID-19 stigma despite recovery

The benefits to being in a senior living community right now are many. “Residents have access to assistance with their activities of daily living such as shopping and home maintenance. There are opportunities for social interaction, exercise and hobbies within the living environment and people also have access to regularly prepared, nutritious meals and snacks,” says Kaganson “In a professionally managed senior living environment, these aspects of living can continue to a degree, albeit in a different, yet COVID-friendly manner.”

Medical assistance is also on hand around the clock, and daily care for residents includes monitoring things like temperatures and blood oxygen levels as pre-emptive identifiers of COVID-19 infection. Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are given appropriate care, including having multiple daily checks, and having reports given to families and medical practitioners as appropriate.

READ: Expert advice: 7 Ways to protect the emotional wellbeing of the elderly during COVID-19

Auria recently conducted an independent survey amongst its residents about their experience of living through the pandemic. “97% of our residents said they could not possibly have felt safer outside of an Auria community, and 99% said that we could not have done anything differently during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect their communities. This is feedback that we welcome as we have made every effort to protect and care for our residents during this time,” says Kaganson.

Even before the national lockdown in South Africa was announced, Auria put measures in place to create a protective ‘bubble’ around its senior living communities. Pro-active testing of staff and quarantine procedures were put in place. “Two-thirds of our staff who tested positive for COVID-19 were identified while still in our off-site quarantine system, and were therefore prevented from entering our communities where they would have unwittingly spread infection further within our communities,” says Kaganson. “In addition, over 85% of the positive test results occurred as a result of our pro-active screening and testing – rather than from people being tested in a response to showing symptoms. This allowed us to take immediate action to protect them and our residents. It also shows the true extent of asymptomatic infection, which would not have been identified otherwise.”

This highlights the clear benefit of living in a professionally managed community where there is operational oversight of processes and active involvement in the early detection and prevention of the spread of the virus in senior living communities. “The ‘protective bubble’ has enabled residents to feel at ease and to move around freely within the community. Auria has also had no positive cases of COVID-19 in staff or residents within the past six weeks. As such, and in line with lockdown relaxations, we are slowly bringing more services and activities online within our communities once again, while continuing a strict testing regime,” says Kaganson.

The evident success of senior living communities during this time has resulted in increased demand from older people who are considering their living options. “Demand has skyrocketed – both from people enquiring about living in our communities and from those already on our waiting lists indicating their intention to move in sooner than they had originally planned to,” says Kaganson. Interest and enquiries are up more than 50% on this time last year. He attributes this to the fact that people have seen the benefits of living in a well-managed community. 

This isn’t an isolated phenomenon either. Continuing care retirement communities across the USA have seen similar rising levels of interest. While move-ins and enquiries were subdued during the actual COVID-19 period, this was mostly a result of quarantine or lockdown restrictions. As the threat of the virus recedes, the country has seen increases in enquiries of 25% and over in the quarter to June 2020.

Kaganson is pleased that the residents within Auria’s communities have felt safe and protected and that the benefits of living in a professionally managed senior living environment are being seen in the market. “Our entire model is based on the belief that seniors can thrive and enjoy their best quality of life in such an environment – and now it has been shown that this is also the best option when it comes to pro-actively ensuring protection during a pandemic,” says Kaganson.

Article source: Mantis Communications

Image source: @KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Show's Stories