No, I am not talking about the distressing number of rising covid cases. Maybe it is because of the pandemic that fewer seniors now see themselves as being able to successfully age in place. On the front side a disproportionate numbers of retirees surveyed hope to stay in their own homes and committees. That number has always been in the high 80 to 90 percent range. A recent survey taken after the start of our national pandemic now says the number of seniors who think they can actually accomplish staying in their own homes is down to only 33%! That number has come down from the 56% just a couple years ago, a real crash of confidence.
That set me back. My thought is the fact that nursing homes and assisted living communities account for over 50% of deaths from covid, means a wake up call not a give it up answer. In my county that number is even higher – 80% plus of deaths have been in facilities. Families are actually pulling their loved ones out. Regulations regarding infection control, staffing and training had already been rolled back. Any kind of universal long-term care coverage may happen in our life time but ….for the next generation. So how is anyone going to afford the average $4000 – $6000 a month for assisted living anyway, especially with an economic downturn.
Are people thinking the pendulum will swing the other way to make senior congregate living the safest place to live? Take away the amenities, the multiple eateries, trips, the group classes, pools and gyms and what is the attraction in terms of community when you are eating in your room watching a screen for social interaction. When contagion strikes, a nursing home is still the definition of an outbreak waiting to happen. Even the regular flu seasons is enough to challenge even the best of facilities. And yes, quite heroically there have been a handful of facilities with dedicated staff that sheltered in place with their residents and did not have a single fatality from covid.
Are people thinking that once there is a vaccine, it is better to circle the wagons and give over the responsibility for your well being to a retirement community. Already in my paper mail I have noticed the flashy giant postcards from senior living communities promising to Keep you safe, we will do our best etc. So once again the boomer generation is being marketed, being told what they should want. To half quote a Rolling Stones song, you can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes …you can get what you need...and my guess that will be staying put!