“Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, many people—including my parents—said they’d rather die than end up in a nursing home. So when my mother suffered a brain aneurysm and became severely disabled at the age of 57, my father and I cared for her at home.
I had two young children and a full-time job, so I would help after work and on the weekends. But after my father fell ill, we needed more help than I could give.
Like many families with few long-term care options, we were forced to turn to the nursing home system.
Families have few choices when it comes to long-term care, and the ones that do exist can be dehumanizing—especially for those who can’t advocate for themselves. Covid-19 has made it clearer than ever that we need better care that honors everyone’s humanity.
My mother lived in a nursing home for 14 years. During that time I got to know the residents and learned that many didn’t have family or anyone to advocate for them. As a result of this experience, I became a volunteer legal guardian for my county’s Adult Protective Services to help those at-risk residents who didn’t have the kind of support that my parents did.
I quickly learned that many nursing homes prioritize profit over people—a trend that has only worsened since Covid-19.
The meeting took place in a bright and beautiful conference room with white leather chairs, in stark contrast to dark rooms filled with plastic chairs in the living facility. It’s a moment that laid bare who many nursing homes are designed to serve.
“Many nursing aides and other care workers want to provide high-quality care, but can’t because they are overworked, underpaid, and fear catching the virus themselves.”
The people who live and work in long-term care facilities are especially susceptible to coronavirus, but nursing homes—for-profit ones especially—are “ill-equipped and understaffed” right now, according to a recent New York Times investigation.
Another resident I supported lived in an understaffed facility where administrators didn’t require workers to wear masks. The resident wasn’t able to get the care he needed as he attempted to self-isolate. He lost 25 pounds in three months.”
Read the full artcile here: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/31/age-covid-elder-care-should-be-election-issue
“ICHIKAWA, Japan — Ninety-one-year-old Hiroko Tsukamoto washes her hands seven times a day and disinfects them before every meal.
Japan has the world’s oldest population, with an average age of 47 and a life expectancy of more than 81 years. More than 28 percent of its residents are over the age of 65, ahead of Italy in second place with 23 percent, and compared with 16 percent of Americans.
But Japan has recorded 1,225 deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, compared with about 180,000 in the United States. In Japan, 14 percent of the deaths have been in elder-care facilities. That is compared with more than 40 percent in the United States, despite a lower proportion of U.S. seniors living in nursing homes.
Fewer than 1 percent of Americans live in nursing facilities, compared with 1.7 percent in Japan. “
Read the full article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/japan-coronavirus-elderly-death-rate/2020/08/29/f30f3ca8-e2da-11ea-82d8-5e55d47e90ca_story.html
“Dementia may be responsible for almost three times more deaths in the United States than what is being reported, according to a new study out of Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).
“Our results indicate that the mortality burden of dementia may be greater than recognized, highlighting the importance of expanding dementia prevention and care,” Dr. Andrew Stokes, the lead author of the study published in JAMA Neurology, said in a news release.
The study estimated that 13.6 percent of deaths in the U.S. are attributed to dementia, some 2.7 times more than the 5 percent of death certificates that stated the underlying cause of death was dementia.
“Understanding what people die of is essential for priority setting and resource allocation,” Stokes said in a news release.
For the study, the researchers analyzed information from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which gathers data from individuals starting when they move into nursing homes. The researchers looked at data collected from a nationally representative cohort of 7,342 elderly adults from 2000 to 2009. They analyzed the correlation between death and dementia while adjusting for other variables including sex, age, race/ethnicity, medical diagnosis, education level, and region of the U.S, according to the news release. “
Read the full article here: https://www.foxnews.com/health/dementia-underlying-cause-3-times-more-deaths-us-study
“While so many people throughout the world are experiencing levels of isolation and loneliness they have never experienced before because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly Osthoff is no stranger to those two words and the impactful meaning behind them.
Osthoff is the director of regional programs for the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
As part of her work, she and her organization support family home caregivers — unpaid, non-professionals who are caring for their loved ones who have Alzheimer’s.
This level of care is a full-time job. It often requires 24-7 care and attention.
With it comes plenty of responsibility, stress and emotional and physical challenges.
And, while seemingly everyone has been affected by the pandemic one way or another, it may be difficult to find a population more greatly affected than home caregivers caring for people with dementia.
“Before the pandemic, being a caregiver (already) brought such emotional burden, anxiety and stress to people,” Osthoff said. “When you compound those two things — the stress of being a caregiver and then the stress of the pandemic, on top of it — there’s anxiety to keep yourself healthy so you can remain the caregiver. … You add in the complexities of living with dementia and struggling to keep up with the hygiene practices, the social distancing and just the behavioral management. It’s added stress to an already stressed-out population.”
Jillian Broce is the Family Caregiver Program Coordinator for the Weld County Area Agency on Aging. The agency assists older adults with all aspects of their daily lives, including helping to provide home care to those who need it.
For family caregivers and the people they are caring for, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges to an already- challenging home situation, while also intensifying the many challenges that already existed. “
Melanie Van Wyhe of Stillwater kept count of the days that COVID-19 visitor restrictions kept her from hugging her mom, Margaret, who resides at a long-term care center. The tally: a heartbreaking 126.
The anguish from the long wait could still be heard in Van Wyhe’s voice as she shared her family’s story during a recent Minnesota Health Department conference call. It’s no wonder. While coping with the pandemic has been challenging for all, seniors and their families had to endure long months where the only safe contact was through a window, a phone or videoconferencing.
Visitation policies eased this summer, with outdoor and some indoor visits now possible. But a worrisome resurgence of cases in long-term settings, both among residents and staff, have state health officials and caregivers concerned.
The virus doesn’t magically appear in senior care settings. Instead, its presence reflects its spread in the community, where staff and family visitors live. And that’s why all of us play a role in preventing the Van Wyhes and others from having to endure long separations again.
Social distancing, wearing masks, vigorous hand-washing and other hygiene practices are easy but important measures that can contain the virus. Getting it under control outside elder care settings helps stop it from getting inside them, which is why state long-term care providers should be heeded as they ask everyone to take these precautions.
“We have to rely on society to help us with social distancing and masking and not putting themselves in precarious situations,” said Erin Hilligan, vice president of operations for Ebenezer, the senior housing arm of Fairview Health Services.
To those who still have misgivings about masks or other measures, “Think about the vulnerable population, their caregivers and their visitors and know that you’re serving them,” said Nathan Johnson, CEO of PioneerCare in Fergus Falls. ”
Read the full article here: https://www.startribune.com/all-of-us-play-a-role-in-protecting-seniors-from-covid-19/572118622/