Real estate is like a seesaw. Its ups and downs are dependent upon what happens on opposite ends of the market. On one end, you find real estate transactions, and on the opposite end sits the current state of the economy, the market demand, and the financial sector.
No one could have predicted Covid-19 would have such an impact on real estate within the United States. From the first reported case in January, the virus has rapidly spread initially devastating senior care facilities in the Northwest, now reaching senior care facilities all over the country in only thirty days.
In a sea of unknowns, one thing is certain: this virus will change the future of healthcare facilities, particularly living facilities, focusing on our elderly population.
Let’s explore a few facts we know to be true:
- Nearly one-third of all Louisiana deaths, related to Covid-19, have occurred in nursing homes
- As of April 29, 2020, the death toll for senior citizens in Louisiana stands at 637. This is close to 30 percent of all deaths from Covid-19 in Louisiana
- Of the Louisiana’s 436 nursing and assisted living homes, 230 different facilities have reported at least one case of Covid-19
- Nationally, nearly 2 in 10 nursing homes have been impacted by the virus. This equates to over 12,000 deaths in nursing homes alone as a result of Covid-19
Unfortunate as it may be, one can only surmise that these numbers will continue to rise.
Industry insiders believe this virus could/will have devastating impacts on the senior living industry. Within days of Covid-19 news breaking, we saw these facilities quickly cancel visits, close themselves off from friends and family members, and execute tight new protocols for healthcare staff.
Questions will arise all over the country from senior citizens, as well their children who care for them. It cannot be expected that things will remain as they were pre-virus. Upon returning to relative normalcy, new protocols will be implemented to ensure the safety of the seniors, their families and the staff that care for those seniors.
Let’s not forget one of the most important questions: “Am I okay not seeing mom or dad the next time a crisis or pandemic occurs?” Or “How is mom or dad handling the isolation?” These questions along with so many others will be raised when weighing the option of whether to send a loved one to a care facility or keep them at home. Answers to those questions often have significant impact during the decision process. Which is the safest, healthiest, most beneficial option for my parents? Unlike many of our global counterparts, the U.S. has not traditionally embraced, in large numbers, elderly parents living at home with their children.
That said, seniors living at home could still face steep challenges. Data shows that around 50 percent of senior citizens currently require daily assistance with basic needs. Most, if not all, will have a need for outside assistance from either children, grandchildren, nurses, attendants or sitters. Each of these individuals pose a risk of bringing viruses into the home. This hazard will likely mean greater costs to provide safe preventative measures. These increased costs will likely have an impact on decisions to keep them at home versus admitting them to a senior care facility, as many seniors are retired with a fixed income.
One thing I am certain of is that facilities with strong protocols for cleanliness, sanitation and other safety measures will fare much better than those with checkered histories. ‘Strong infection control’ will become the new norm, followed by changes in designs and operational procedures due to this pandemic. Poorly performing facilities will likely fail as a result of increased scrutiny from customers and inspectors.
Our nation’s seniors have paid their dues. As the younger generations, we owe it to them to figure out solutions that provide the safest, most sustainable living facilities for those in their golden years.