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  • Writer's picturePortland Elder Care Council

Is it safe to consider moving to a retirement community right now?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on a seemingly relentless path, we are all left wondering when things will get back to “normal”. When will we get to see our families again, enjoy a meal out with a friend or travel to the places we have wanted to see all year? No one knows the answers to these questions. And this uncertainty makes it harder to plan for our future, plans both big and small. This, of course, affects individuals that are planning for their long term care. One of the biggest concerns that seniors and their families have faced during the pandemic is whether or not it is safe to move to a retirement or long term care community.

There is so much to consider when choosing the appropriate care community, and amidst the pandemic, we have an added layer of concerns to address. The key in making a decision you can be confident in, is to assess the risks and benefits of making a move right now. While it is true that there have been some assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities that have had deadly outbreaks of the coronavirus, the majority of licensed care facilities have done a wonderful job of implementing strict protocols and keeping their residents and employees safe.


As of January 2021, licensed long term care facilities are some of the first locations in each state to receive the vaccine. Regardless of your personal feelings about the vaccine, this should highlight the value that local officials, and others in the industry, place on keeping this generation safe.

There are specific questions to ask when considering any community. Of course everyone wants to know cost, how the food is and what amenities are included. But while we are focused on promoting health and safety during the pandemic, your questions may have a different focus. Think of asking questions like: What has the community and management company done to ensure the safety of the residents from the spread of COVID? What additional steps have they taken to ensure that residents maintain emotional and mental health as well? How is the care team assisting families to ensure that there is clear and transparent communication between everyone? Are there additional costs that will be added within the next year to help cover the cost of some of these safety measures?

Another concern that many of us have voiced in recent months is whether or not there will be availability in these communities once the COVID risk is mitigated. Many people have put their plans to move on hold. That means that once the majority of people feel safe enough to make a move, there may be fewer available apartments to choose from and demand could drive the cost up even further. This will be especially true in communities that have Medicaid contracts and may ask that some private pay be provided upon admission. This will obviously create a new set of issues that we have not had the time nor the resources to consider solutions for.

As you continue to make a list of questions to address with each community, consider writing a “Risks” and “Benefits” column in your notes. Does the need for 24/7 care outweigh the possibility of contracting COVID? Would the isolation of a possible quarantine in a new community cause adverse emotional effects? It may be helpful to enlist the help of a senior placement advisor as you explore these questions and concerns. And they can assist you in identifying other aspects of senior living that you may not have considered. There are a variety of tools and resources at your disposal to assist in making the right decision for your future. And by properly assessing risks and benefits, we will all come out of this pandemic, healthy and safe.

Want to talk to someone about your moving and community options? We can help! Simply contact us here.

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