Information regarding the COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, is everywhere, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or confused. However, one thing is certain: The risk of developing severe and dangerous complications due to the virus increases with age. This means that senior care and senior living professionals have been paying especially close attention to the science and research surrounding COVID-19.
At the Arbor Company, we have always followed infection control best practices at all of our communities across the country, and we increased them as the virus threat became clearer. We are proud of our team members, who are diligently working to keep residents safe and healthy. They have been making safe decisions for their own health as well.
As always, protecting our residents’ and staff’s health and safety is our priority.
As the Centers for Disease Control and federal and local officials continue to distribute updated information, our Arbor team must adapt in order to provide the best care to those who call our communities home. With this in mind, we have decided to suspend visitors and other individuals from entering Arbor communities, except for emergency or health care needs.
We know this decision will impact the lives of our residents, their family and friends, and our greater communities, and may even be disappointing to some. Our team did not take this decision lightly. However, we chose to listen to the guidance of experts and to draw upon our own experience of caring for seniors for more than 30 years. We feel that erring on the side of caution is the best policy, as seniors are the most at-risk age group for COVID-19.
Facts About COVID-19 and Seniors
Experts across the globe are still actively learning about COVID-19. The CDC says that older adults are at a greater risk of contracting the virus. Moreover, they are at a much higher risk for developing serious and deadly conditions if they do contract the virus.
Early data demonstrates that COVID-19 is more deadly to older adults, and especially older adults with underlying chronic medical conditions. Current data shows:
- The mortality rate for people over the age of 80 is 15 percent in China.
- The World Health Organization estimates the mortality rate for those over the age of 80 is 21.9 percent globally.
In addition to learning from other countries and global organizations, the senior living community is also looking at the Centers for Disease Control for guidance. Currently, the CDC recommends “aggressive visitor restrictions” even before COVID-19 is discovered in the community in order to further protect residents and staff members.
COVID-19 and Visitors
Because some people who contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms, it is not unreasonable to think that a visitor to a senior living community could feel fine but be contagious. Limiting the spread of the disease to the vulnerable senior population we serve is our main priority, which is why we have temporarily stopped allowing visitors to our communities. This decision remains effective indefinitely and we will re-evaluate as we gain insight from federal and local officials.
We understand this decision may prevent you from seeing your family member or friend. However, we will focus on ensuring our residents are still socially, cognitively, and emotionally engaged through safe activities and interventions. If you have a loved one in an Arbor community, we encourage you to contact that community with any specific questions or concerns.
Inside our communities, we’re focused on keeping life as normal as possible. Our activities are continuing and our staff is focused on making the most of this situation. And, we’re working to help families connect for “virtual visits” using video.
We take our role as senior living providers very seriously and are honored to serve our residents during this time. Thank you for cooperating and helping us to keep our residents as healthy as possible.