Experts warn to take precautions to prevent possible spread of coronavirus in nursing homes

Older adults and those with chronic health conditions are at a higher risk of being impacted if the coronavirus continues to spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amy O’Rourke is the director of care management for Arosa, an aging life care company.  

“The way we look at coronavirus, if you don’t panic, I don’t think people should panic. It would be if you take all the necessary precautions that you would take with any respiratory illness,” O’Rourke said.  

She has a master's degree in public health administration and gerontology and worked in nursing home administration for more than 20 years.  

She says if you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, make sure their facility is being vigilant.  

“If I were walking up to a facility, I would want to see a sign on the door that said if you are sick, please don’t come in due to coronavirus,” O’Rourke said.

Once inside the facility, O’Rourke says make sure those providing care to your loved ones are using best practices.  

“Watching the staff, watching the housekeepers, and the aides and nurses to make sure that they are taking the universal precautions, which is washing their hands,” O’Rourke said.

She says you are typically your elderly family member’s best advocate. 

If they’re sick, speak up.  

“My radar would be on someone that has chronic symptoms all along because they may not realize they have the coronavirus,” O’Rourke said. 

She also says that folks need to be extra mindful about what they’ve been exposed to before stepping into a nursing home or assisted living facility right now.  

“If you’ve been around a sick child or around someone who’s sick, don’t go to see your loved one, use Skype, us a phone call, use a letter,” O’Rourke said.