Every year, many seniors make the transition from community living to a long-term care facility. There are currently 2.5 million seniors living in nursing homes or assisted-living communities.
While some people prefer to age in place, others don’t have a choice and must live in a long-term care setting. The initial transition to a long-term care facility can be stressful. You might be worried about your long-term health, so it is important to make the right preparation ahead of time. You will be a lot less likely to get sick or face chronic health problems if you are adequately prepared for your new lifestyle.
Here are some important tips for seniors planning to move to a long-term care facility. You should follow them closely to avoid health issues down the road.
Carefully research the reputation of the long-term care facility before becoming a resident
The quality of services varies tremendously between nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Most do a great job in spite of Medicare and Medicaid cuts. However, some are not known for treating residents well.
“The quality of senior living facilities varies tremendously, even within a tight geographic region,” says Daiya Healthcare. “Seniors and their families must carefully explore their options before settling on a nursing home or assisted living facility.”
You need to conduct your due diligence on any long-term care facility before agreeing to become a resident. You need to make sure that the facility has a good reputation for treating residents well and keeping their facilities clean.
Make sure to socially distance more during cold and flu season
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how vulnerable nursing home residents can be. Recent data shows that 38% of all COVID-19 deaths have taken place inside nursing homes. Data from December 4 shows that 106,000 residents in long-term care facilities have passed away from this disease.
Long-term care residents will be at a lower risk in the near future, since they are receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines during Phase 1 of the rollouts. Unfortunately, you won’t be entirely safe from illness and infection after the pandemic comes to an end.
There are still other infections that you need to prepare for. Annual cold and flu infections are also serious risks for vulnerable nursing home and assisted living residents.
You should make as much of an effort to socially distance as possible during periods when there are a lot of germs floating around. You obviously can’t avoid getting sick altogether, since you are in fairly tight quarters with other residents and they are exposed to the same staff. However, you can try to physically distance yourself from others and wear a mask when you are being taken care of by a staff member. This won’t entirely prevent an infection, but it will seriously reduce the risk.
Try to stay socially active as much as possible
Some people living in nursing homes feel isolated and lonely. Others feel invigorated by the connections with other residents.
The difference really boils down to your attitude about socializing. You have many opportunities to build friendships with other people living in your long-term care facility. You’ll feel a lot healthier if you maintain a strong social life, so you should try to invest in building relationships with other residents and the staff.
Try to participate in physical activities to the best of your ability
The best long-term care facilities have a number of physical activities for their community members. If at all possible, you should try to participate in as many different physical activities as you can. Staying physically active will help you minimize the risks of heart disease, diabetes, depression and other health issues. If you have already been diagnosed with these problems, then regular exercise can at least reduce these risks further.
Of course, some of them might not be conducive to your individual health risks. Fortunately, you will have a physician that can help you figure out what types of activities will be good for you and which ones pose an unnecessary risk.
Your healthcare team will probably recommend a number of different types of therapies and physical activities. However, it is ultimately up to you to decide whether or not to take their advice. You should try to be as active as possible to avoid long-term health risks.
Be prudent about your health in a long-term care setting
You may find that it is necessary to join a long-term facility. You are likely to feel a lot healthier and happier. However, it is still important to take proper precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy.