You Can’t Hug Your Parents, But You Can Still Take Care of Them
Whether your parent is in assisted living or living at home, there are ways for you to keep them safe
Yesterday, as I closed the door and left my 87-year-old mom’s assisted living home, I felt a knot in the pit in my stomach. Who would hug her, talk to her, hold her hand, and remind her that she was loved? How could I even explain my absence to her given her advanced Alzheimer’s and inability to verbally communicate? I had tried anyway, not knowing if she understood, but I had no choice. Her assisted living home had imposed a mandatory ban recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on all visitors.
In this time of Covid-19, those of us with elderly parents have a serious set of facts we have to come to grips with. If your loved one is over 60 or has an underlying health condition, there is a 20% chance they will end up hospitalized if they contract Covid-19, and anywhere from a 6% to a 15% chance they might die from it. Although this means that if infected, 80% won’t be hospitalized and 85% to 94% will live, no one wants to risk their loved one’s health.
For all these reasons, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are closing their doors to visitors or otherwise severely restricting access to the public.
But many of us have parents who are healthy — the fly Bettys and social Sams who, in their sixties, seventies, or eighties, still have an active social life. Your parents may be having a hard time coming to grips with being confined. They may already feel that you try to tell them what to do and have to constantly remind you they are the parent. But it is important to remind them to practice social isolation as much as possible. Avoid nonessential trips, and if they absolutely must go out, practice social distancing, staying six feet away from others.
For all seniors, having connections is essential for robust mental health. So it is paramount to maintain communications with them so they do not feel lonely and become depressed.