How to Help Protect a Family Member in a Nursing Home

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Long-term care facilities can also be breeding grounds for infections.

Of the 15,000 nursing homes in the country, “almost 3,000 of these have a one-star rating on their health inspections,” according to a statement released in June by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Between 1 million to 3 million serious infections, including diarrheal diseases and antibiotic-resistant staph infections, occur every year in these facilities, according to the C.D.C. These infections kill as many as 380,000 people each year.

When you spend time at your loved one’s home, look to see that basic protocols, like frequent hand washing and sanitation, are being followed. If something isn’t being met, be gentle yet firm when talking to an administrator, or even take your needs and concerns to the facility’s director of nursing.

Family members should monitor their loved ones “to make sure that if they do come down with the virus, that they’re being cared for, that they’re being hydrated,” said Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician and professor of medicine at Brown University, where he studies disaster preparedness. “That they’re being treated like somebody should if they have a viral illness.”

With your loved one, be sure to ask questions about what they ate for lunch, whether they had juice or tea, what activities they have done during the day. Even if they have cognitive issues, you will probably receive an honest response.

Check with the facility to learn what their plans are if an outbreak occurs, and ask what they are doing to ensure they have enough medical and safety supplies in the event of an outbreak.

To protect their residents and staff, nursing homes may turn away visitors and quarantine residents in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.

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