Reminds families to remain diligent in wake of recent CMS and CDC guidelines to expand visitation
CHICAGO, March 12, 2021
— The COVID-19 pandemic has been an especially difficult time for caregivers and families who have been unable to see their loved ones in person. The Alzheimer’s Association is encouraged by recent
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) efforts to enable visitation, reuniting residents with their families and reducing the harmful impact social isolation has had on these individuals.
As more families move toward this important milestone, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends families and long-term care settings remain diligent in following proven COVID-19 safety protocols. For people living with dementia who are at greater risk for contracting COVID-19, it is especially important to continue to take extra precaution to protect these individuals.
The Alzheimer’s Association supports these important CMS guidelines:
- Ensuring facilities, residents, and families adhere to the core principles of COVID-19 infection control, including maintaining physical distancing and conducting visits outdoors whenever possible. This continues to be the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly if either party has not been fully vaccinated.
- If residents are fully vaccinated, the new CMS guidelines do allow for close contact, including touch. In these situations, visitors must still wear a well-fitted mask while also physically distancing themselves from other residents and staff in the facility.
- Adhering to CMS guidance that limits or restricts visitation, including:
- Unvaccinated residents if; 1) the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10% and 2) less than 70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated;
- Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or
- Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.
In addition to these CMS guidelines, given the vulnerability of individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, the Alzheimer's Association encourages visitors and caregivers to make appropriate considerations and take additional safety precautions when visiting care communities, including:
- Before your visit, check with the care community on its visitation policies.
- If you are unvaccinated, consider getting tested prior to visiting. Also, limit the number of unvaccinated individuals who visit at any one time.
- During your visit, follow community guidelines for visitation. Limit your visit to approved areas only and avoid going into other parts of the community. Keep your distance from other residents as much as possible.
- Conduct visits outdoors when feasible to minimize risk of transmission.
- If you have been exposed to anyone with the virus within 14 days, postpone your visitation.
- Inform staff immediately if you develop a fever or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within 14 days of your visit.
- Bring your own face mask, put it on before entering the facility and wear it at all times. Masks should be well-fitted and be secured over your mouth and nose.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Individuals living in these care communities are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the community nature of these settings. In addition, the large majority of individuals living in these settings are older with underlying chronic conditions that put them at higher risk for COVID-19.
There are always risks with in-person visits, but as long-term care communities begin to allow visitors and more of the country is vaccinated, the steps outlined above will help to mitigate risk and reunite families safely.
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia®. For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.