man with face mask looking out window

Forty-one percent of participants in a new survey said they don’t trust assisted living communities and nursing homes to keep older adults safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, members of the oldest generations surveyed were even less trustful of senior living and care operators than younger generations; 49.5% of baby boomers said they do not trust senior living and care providers to keep residents safe, whereas 43.9% of the Silent Generation report the same distrust. That compares with 42.3% of Generation X reporting distrust, 31.8% of Millennials and 38.2% of Generation Z. 

That said, 43.1% of baby boomers responded that they trust facilities “somewhat,” as did 51.4% of Silent Generation respondents.

“I believe that part of this mistrust could originate from the extensive media coverage of COVID-19 fatalities in nursing homes, since the senior residents are especially vulnerable to the illness,” Andrew Hurst, research analyst for ValuePenguin, told McKnight’s Senior Living. “But I believe it goes further than that. The quarantine and social distancing has added to families’ anxiety over the safety and mental well being of the seniors who live in these facilities since they aren’t able to visit as often as they like.”

The online survey from and LendingTree of 1,109 Americans, fielded Aug. 13 to 17, found that COVID-19 has generated a wave of loneliness and worry among older adults. 

According to the results, 36% of older adults feel lonelier than ever, but more than 70% of seniors expressed concerns about the virus’ effects on their younger relatives. Those concerns were equally expressed by younger generations for their older relatives. Close to half of both age groups are worried that their relatives will catch the virus.

But the pandemic appears to have a silver lining for family communications. A “prevailing sense of concern” for the mental and physical health of their elderly loved ones has led to an increase in contact since the pandemic began. Although 44% of the younger survey-takers stated they have spoken to their older relatives more during the pandemic, one-fourth of young people reported visiting their older relatives in person more frequently.

The No. 1 request from respondents aged 75 and older to their loved ones is “call more often.”

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In other coronavirus-related news:

  • Harmony House Tucson is the first assisted living home providing specialized care for COVID-19-positive older adults in Tucson, AZ. In partnership with the Pima County Health Department, the community is offering a free program for those who qualify. CEO Brianna Henderson received a county grant using CARES Act funds to make the service available. The pilot program will continue through December, but Henderson hopes to extend it if there is a need. Nine rooms offer isolation for those with mild to moderate symptoms. The facility will be staffed with two nurses 24/7. Harmony House also set up a Go Fund Me campaign to help with expenses.
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health has released revised guidance to support assisted living and other long-term care facilities’ efforts to balance the need to protect residents from COVID-19 and ensure healthy social and emotional connections with family and friends during the ongoing pandemic. Guidance for a phased reopening for residential care and assisted living communities, adult day centers, nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities that first took effect in July set cautious and measured processes to determine the most appropriate visitation policy. The revised guidance helps clarify variations between phases two and three for visitation and communal activities.
  • Brookdale Senior Living President and CEO Cindy Baier talked with Lori Esposito Murray, president of the Committee of Economic Development of The Conference Board, about how the company leveraged its 40 years of experience to navigate through the pandemic. The discussion is part of a Leadership in Challenging Times series focusing on business leaders and how they helped their companies chart a path forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Senior living community leaders believe engagement technology is more important now than they did last year, according to results of a new survey from Denver-based digital engagement company iN2L. “Senior Living 2020: The State of Engagement and Technology” examines how community leaders view and value senior engagement technology now compared with before the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey questions were asked in March 2019 and June 2020 to senior living community leaders, predominantly in continuing care retirement and assisted living communities.
  • Most Americans (62%) worry political pressure will lead to premature approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, with half saying they would not get a free vaccine approved before Election Day, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. The public also is losing confidence in coronavirus information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And nearly half of adults hold at least one misconception about coronavirus prevention and treatment. 
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said inconsistencies in test results using widespread saliva tests in assisted living communities and nursing homes across the state to detect coronavirus may be the result of lab errors, not the test itself. Ohio stopped the saliva-based testing at assisted living communities after two days after testing data inconsistencies were found at some communities.
  • New York is now allowing visitors to see loved ones at assisted living communities that are COVID-free for 14 days, a change from 28 days under previous guidance. Visits are limited to the outdoors, weather permitting, although visits of no more than 10 individuals in a well-ventilated space can be allowed in certain limited circumstances.  The 28-day threshold for restricted visits still applies to nursing homes. The New York Department of Health said the state is easing the policy just for assisted living because outbreaks are “less common” than at nursing homes. Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) has introduced legislation seeking to create an exception that allows a designated family member or associate to visit residents of assisted living and nursing homes for personal care visitation, as well as compassionate care visitation for residents who experience significant changes in their mental or psychosocial well-being as a result of isolation.