Having a loved one in long-term care can be pretty scary right now. Nursing homes are one of the main front lines in the fight against COVID-19, as the virus has overtaken many of these facilities. In fact, a whopping one-third (35%) of all COVID-19 related deaths in the United States are linked to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Due to the uptick, many facilities are banning visitors, creating more concern and confusion for some families.

The coronavirus brings to light questions about oversight and care at long-term care facilities, especially assisted living. As a growing option for people looking to age in place, assisted living facilities are home to about 800,000 residents nationwide. These facilities are subject to less scrutiny than nursing homes, though, with no federal resources like Nursing Home Compare to understand how certain facilities stack up.

So what’s a family to do? If you are concerned about the health and safety of a loved one, here’s where to start.

Learn Everything You Can

COVID-19 has isolated facilities, leading to fears for many about what’s happening on the inside. The virus threatens to erode oversight and transparency even more. Long-term care ombudsmen, who traditionally went to facilities and talked to residents, now must assess care from afar because of restrictions on visitation. And COVID-19 has removed another type of helping hands and watchful eyes: family members.

As the crisis unfolds, the government has announced a new commission to investigate the response to the coronavirus in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. If you are concerned about a facility’s protocol, ask about restrictions on visitation, how they are quarantining sick residents and sanitizing the facility, and more. Be proactive about questioning how they are monitoring your loved one, especially since COVID-19 can present in an atypical way for older adults.

Explore Your Options

The pandemic may ultimately result in a long-term shift toward at-home care. There is currently talk about expanding Medicaid coverage to provide some more flexibility for people to receive their care at home. It’s important to consider your loved one’s needs and the setting that is safest and healthiest for them.

Get Their Estate Planning Done

If you needed a reminder to get your loved one’s estate planning done, now is the time. Check out our recent article on emergency estate planning, which covers the steps to take now, and feel free to reach out with questions or issues with your own family. We’re here to help.