Post-COVID, View of Nursing Homes Erodes
COVID has moved from a central place in our lives to a risk that, while still important to heed, has moved out of the foreground.
One thing we will not forget, however, is COVID’s toll on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where the virus has killed more than 200,000 older Americans and staff. The tragedy also played out in nursing homes in Canada, where the deaths received high-profile coverage in the news media, just as they did in this country.
A survey of Canadians at the end of 2020, while COVID was still raging, indicates that the pandemic caused major changes in their thinking about old age. The reaction of a majority of people in their 50s and 60s to what they saw happening was to say they intend to avoid ever spending time in a nursing home, according to a summary of the survey by Canadian researchers.
It’s not hard to understand why so many deaths left such a lasting impression. What may be more surprising is the potentially big shift in what Canadians now believe should be done to address the situation.
More than two out of three Canadians surveyed said government could increase taxes to fund more government support for someone to come into retirees’ homes and help them with daily activities such as cooking, shopping, showering, and dressing.
But home care is an expensive proposition: the cost of one month in a nursing facility in Canada would buy only about two hours of home care per day. However, about one in four individuals said they would also take more responsibility themselves for preventing a nursing home stay by saving money to pay for their future home care.
The researchers point out that since the Canadian and U.S. experiences with COVID were very similar, public opinion here is likely to be very similar too.
Given that, they said, “policies aimed at making home care more affordable might better meet the preferences of older Americans in the wake of the pandemic.”
Squared Away writer Kim Blanton invites you to follow us on Twitter @SquaredAwayBC. To stay current on our blog, please join our free email list. You’ll receive just one email each week – with links to the two new posts for that week – when you sign up here. This blog is supported by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
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