Many people living in retirement communities and independent living facilities (ILF) are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 because they
- Are older adults and/or
- Have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.
A retirement community or independent living facility is a residential or housing community that is usually age-restricted (e.g., aged 55 and older) with residents who are partially or fully retired and can generally care for themselves without regular nursing or other routine medical assistance. Communal facilities, community activities, meals, transportation, and socialization opportunities may be provided. Different types of independent housing with support services for older adults include:
- Public housing for low- to-moderate income elderly
- Assisted living homes that do not provide medical services
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities, which include a range of housing options including independent living.
Who is this guidance for?
This guidance is for owners, administrators, operators, workers, volunteers, visitors, and residents of retirement communities and ILF that are not healthcare facilities. Guidance for long-term care facilities (LTCF) that offer medical services, i.e., nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and adult day care programs to older adults can be found here.
Additionally, a checklistpdf icon is available for use by long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities to assess and improve their preparedness for responding to COVID-19. Retirement communities and ILF can adapt this checklist to meet their needs and circumstances.
Information relevant to retirement communities and ILF can also be found in guidance documents for older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions and for community-based organizations.
Why is this guidance being issued?
COVID-19 is being increasingly reported in communities across the United States. It is likely that the novel coronavirus is circulating in most communities even if cases have not yet been reported. Residents in retirement communities and ILF are considered to be at higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes because of older age and because they may have underlying health conditions, such as chronic heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease. They also may be at higher risk of getting and spreading the virus because of community characteristics, such as frequent social activities, and shared dining facilities and communal spaces. Guidance specific to retirement and independent living communities can help the residents, and those who help serve them, slow the spread of the virus and prevent serious illness.
This guidance takes into account that residents in retirement communities generally care for themselves. Retirement communities and ILF can also consider adopting the more stringent recommendations for long-term care facilities or nursing homes, especially if they are a continuing care retirement community that includes a long-term care facility. Either way, retirement community and ILF owners, administrators, or operators have an important role, working together with residents, workers, volunteers, and the local health departments in slowing the spread of diseases and helping ensure residents are safe.