As is common knowledge by now, the elderly population is at much higher risk for serious issues due to COVID-19 than most other age groups and demographics. As many elderly already needed regular care before the pandemic, there are a lot of lines to toe when it comes to being there for them while still maintaining social distancing to decrease their odds of contracting the disease.
There are many ways to help your parents or other elderly loved ones during this time while still practicing proper measure to avoid contact and help flatten the proverbial curve. Here are some ways!
Certainly not in all cases, but age tends to bring with it some stubbornness and many elderly people don’t want help and don’t want to embrace any part of “the new normal.” With this in mind, it’s important to be proactive. Rather than asking Mom and Dad if they need help with groceries, just go pick some up and drop them off at their home… sanitizing everything, of course!
Because of the growing elderly population, there is also an implicit bias in healthcare, with ageism being an area of concern among doctors and other professionals in the field. If your loved one does need care, being there with them and making sure they are getting treated fairly is a good way of combating this.
In keeping with the aforementioned stubbornness, it can be difficult to get your elderly loved ones to listen to the reasons that masks, social distancing, etc., are important. When it comes to healthcare, nurses often use therapeutic communication when relaying bad news to patients, and you can use this tactic, too. No one wants to hear that someone their age has an increased chance of mortality due to an incurable disease in the air, but when relayed much more softly than that sentence, it will most likely be digested a bit more.
With the bad, we must also recognize that elderly people have experienced a lot more than younger generations, including a number of other coronavirus outbreaks including SARS and MERS, and similar diseases like the swine flu. Acknowledging their experiences and letting them know, respectfully as you can, that COVID is a different animal. Also, question and answer seems to be a good strategy to bring the stubborn ones’ guard down a bit. “When you go out, what kind of mask are you using?” and things of the like that make it easy to inject points of precaution seemingly with the flow of a conversation, rather than as a directive.
Communicating frequently with your elderly parents is very important. According to Dr. Julie Smirl, Assistant Professor in Bradley University’s Online Masters of Counseling Program, “it is important to increase ways to communicate with our family members, loved ones, and friends/peers.
Access to technology connections with others can be an optimal way to connect with one another while maintaining social distancing. When working with senior citizens it is important to provide devices that meet their accommodation needs due to any type of disability. Time and patience is an integral part to training people when they are new to the use of these devices.”
If you can successfully break down the walls and your parents are listening, first pat yourself on the back, and then tell them about all of the wonderful options for their daily activities that they can do from the safety of an office chair in front of a computer. Sending them tutorials on how to use Zoom to communicate with loved ones is great, but they can also utilize contact-free delivery services for groceries and even health-related items like prescription drugs.
Keep At It
With no vaccine or cure in sight just yet, it’s important to stay diligent with your loved ones. As we all saw in the past few weeks, failures to comply with social distancing orders resulted in many states re-closing. Unfortunately, it seems like an unwise decision to expect people to listen to orders put in place to protect the vulnerable population like Mom and Dad, so taking your help, education, and level of caring up a notch as time wears on will be very important.
This content is sponsored by Andrew Deen.
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