The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the health and well-being of so many people in this country. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our nation’s nursing home facilities. The first major outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States happened in a nursing home in Washington state. Since then, a state-by-state analysis of COVID-19 fatalities has found that nursing homes and assisted living facilities account for 42% of the virus deaths. This is an astounding statistic, and it is important to look at why nursing home residents face such a high risk concerning COVID-19.
Why Are Nursing Home Residents More at Risk?
COVID-19 is a new disease, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has worked diligently to understand who is most likely to face serious risks upon contracting the virus. According to the CDC, the population most at risk or becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 are
Those aged 65 and older
Those living in a nursing home or long term care facility
In addition to those factors, the CDC says people of all ages with the following underlying medical conditions face a higher risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19:
Those with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
Those who have a serious heart condition
Anyone with a weakened immune system
Those with severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher)
People with diabetes
Those with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
Those with liver disease
When looking through the list of those who are most at risk, it is clear to see that nursing home residents face particular dangers. In addition to the fact that many nursing home residents have multiple risk factors, nursing homes are typically close-quartered environments, which can rapidly increase the rate of infection throughout the nursing home community.
Other Ways COVID-19 Affects Nursing Home Residents
Aside from the health risks associated with COVID-19 and nursing home residents, this pandemic has affected those living in these facilities in other ways. One of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while in a nursing home or assisted living facility is the ability to remain active. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are essentially on lockdown in their rooms due to COVID-19. If somebody tests positive in their facility, it is unlikely that there will be any community activities or exercise opportunities available.
Visitation from friends and family members is not occurring at this time In New Jersey nursing homes, with the exception of nursing home residents who are facing an end of life situation. This means that nursing home residents do not get to see their loved ones on a regular basis as they are accustomed to. This can lead to significant feelings of isolation and loneliness and cause depression for those residing in a nursing home.
When Will Things Return to Normal?
Right now, the number one concern for federal, state, and local health officials is the safety and well being of the residents inside nursing homes. While everybody would like activities and visitation to resume, doing so too quickly could result in more severe illnesses and fatalities. A return to “normal” may take a significant amount of time.
If your loved one resides in a nursing home, we strongly encourage you to call them regularly. If you are able to do so, take advantage of video conferencing tools such as FaceTime and Zoom. These options can help with the mental well-being of your loved one. If your loved one contracted coronavirus and you suspect negligence on the part of the nursing home, speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in Anaheim to learn about your potential legal options.