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What seniors really need during the coronavirus pandemic
01:37 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Dr. Alison Webb took her 81-year-old father out of assisted living to live.

Coleen Hubbard took her 85-year-old mother out of independent living to die.

With the coronavirus moving through facilities that house older adults, families across the country are wondering “Should I bring Mom or Dad home?”

It’s a reasonable question. Most retirement complexes and long-term care facilities are excluding visitors. Older adults are asked to stay in their rooms and are alone for most of the day. Family members might call, but that doesn’t fill the time. Their friends in the facility are also sequestered.

In a matter of weeks, conditions have deteriorated in many of these centers.

At assisted living sites, staff shortages are developing as aides become sick or stay home with children whose schools have closed.

Nursing homes, where seniors go for rehabilitation after a hospital stay or live long term if they’re seriously ill and frail, are being hard hit by the coronavirus. They’re potential petri dishes for infection.

Still, older adults in these settings are being fed and offered other types of assistance. My neighbor’s 80-something parents are at a continuing care community outside Denver. It has started a concierge service for residents who need to order groceries and fill prescriptions. At rehab centers, physical, occupational and speech therapists offer valuable services.