In the current pandemic, senior citizens have been disproportionately affected. This is especially true of those living in nursing homes, though the extent varies. 25% of US coronavirus deaths occurred in nursing homes, but 4-5 star nursing homes had 94% lower risk than their 1-star peers. When the pandemic ends, those disparities will remain. As America ages, nursing homes will house more people than ever in the coming years.
Despite the growth in demand, nursing homes remain unpopular among Americans. Only 19% think nursing homes make seniors better off. Seniors don’t move into nursing homes because they want to, but they lack the resources to pursue alternatives. Average nursing home residents need 4 hours of personalized nursing care every day due to diseases like Alzheimer’s or arthritis. Care like that is hard to get elsewhere.
Unfortunately, meeting senior’s medical needs currently incur the cost of social isolation. Moving away from friends and routines causes depression in 40% of seniors, a statistic tied to worse health outcomes. Even before COVID-19, 55% said they didn’t see their families enough.
One thing altering this trend is advances in medical technology. Innovations are improving care quality, with some even allowing seniors to regain independence. Current tech includes Solo-Step, a rehabilitation harness that prevents fall-related injuries, letting users walk independently. Another available technology is the Aiva voice assistant, which gives seniors an easier way to communicate with other residents, family members, and caregivers while socially distanced.
Coming in the future are things like The Kidney Project, an artificial kidney that would remove the need for dialysis, and Neuro Rehab VR, which uses virtual reality to help individuals recover from brain injuries. Products like these give aging people the chance of a brighter future despite the current health crisis.