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Managing COVID-19 Risks in a Long-Term Care Setting

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There have already been many reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and unfortunately many of these cases have been occurring in older adults living within nursing homes or at other long-term care facilities. We’ve compiled this list of helpful actions you can take to keep yourself or your elderly family members safe.

Actions You Can Take

  • Always prioritize your facility’s instructions for infection prevention.
  • Notify staff the exact moment if you think you are feeling ill.
  • Communicate with your immediate caretakers about the steps that are being taken at your specific facility to keep you and your loved ones safe from harm. This may include asking how they are limiting visitors.

Known COVID-19 Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 will range from very mild symptoms to severe illness, but you must understand that these have been known to result in death. Such symptoms will often start to appear within 2–14 days after exposure.

In some cases, older adults, as well as folks with underlying health conditions may have additional symptoms that are not typically seen in others, or they may take longer than others to develop a fever or other symptoms – so please keep this in mind.

Monitor For Signs of a Fever

In most older adults, the normal body temperature range can be much lower than it is for younger adults. It is for this very reason that fever temperatures may also appear lower in older adults as their bodies do not produce as high of a fever (on average). Any signs of elevated temperature from where it usually is, could be a signal that something is wrong.

If you are an older adult and are experiencing what you think could be a fever, or notice other symptoms and would like to be tested, always call your primary healthcare provider first. If you don’t have success reaching them, you should also look into visiting your state or local health department’s website to try and find local information for testing in your area.

If you are a caregiver for any patients age 65 or older, please be aware that a single temperature reading which is higher than 100°F (37.8°C), or multiple readings above 99°F (37.2°C), or even a rise in temperature greater than 2°F (1.1°C) beyond a patient’s standard (baseline) temperature, this could indicate that an infection is present.

Long-term Care Settings May Come with Increased Risks

The communal setting found at many nursing homes and long-term care facilities, as well as the population being served (which often includes older adults with many different underlying medical issues), may mean these folks have an increased danger of infection or risk getting an unrelated illness which would be further complicated by COVID-19.

Tips for Healthcare Providers of Older Adults

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control:

If you are a healthcare provider in a nursing home or long-term care facility, make sure to take additional precautions for yourself and the older adults in your care. Viral testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is an important addition to other infection prevention and control practices.

Learn more about the CDC’s guidance for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Or, check out this great resource from BankRate.com which highlights how to identify COVID-19 from the common flu .

If you have any questions about how COVID-19 affects Long-Term Care or would like to discuss your situation with our skilled Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys, please call our office at 509-328-2150 to schedule an appointment or visit our contact page.

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