Aging Well

Choosing a Retirement Community When Coronavirus Prevents Tours

Many states have understandably closed Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care communities to all visitors. Is there anything families seeking placement can do until it's possible to tour again?

Posted Updated
Some communities offer virtual tours
Liisa Ogburn

Depending on the state, between 20 and 40 percent of deaths due to coronavirus have occurred in nursing homes. Consequently, most states mandated that nursing homes and hospitals be closed to visitors and new admissions. During this period of waiting for it to be deemed safe enough to reopen, families in need of care are wondering if there is anything they can do to begin selecting the right one for their loved one.

The short answer is yes.

Families in need of Assisted Living, Memory Care or Skilled Nursing can called communities they are interested in to get information by phone or request a marketing package be mailed. Most importantly, perhaps, is to determine whether there the facility can meet your loved ones' needs and also whether there is availability.

A fair number of places are typically fully occupied and have wait lists. That said, since many have been closed to new admissions since March and we still don't know when Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen will deem it safe to reopen communities, there may be new vacancies that are simply sitting open.

It will be important to get a clear idea of whether a community is a good match for your loved ones' needs, what the costs are (now and over time as care needs grow) and if it's possible to get a virtual tour of the available room (if there is one). Many communities have posted virtual tours on their website. Some are equipped to use FaceTime to walk you through the community and even see your room.

While no community can say with certainty when they will be open to visitors again, they can send you the paperwork required for a move-in, and including the documents you will need to gather to make a move-in smooth and relatively quickly.

When these communities do open, if you have any inkling you or your loved one may need to move in the near future, I would recommend touring. Dr. Fauci, the infectious disease expert providing guidance to the President, anticipates another outbreak in the fall, coinciding with the seasonal flu. It wouldn't be a stretch to assume that Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing communities will shut their doors again.


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