It’s natural to want to visit our elderly loved ones. We do love them, after all, and thus we want to spend time with them. Plus, we know that loneliness and social isolation are unhealthy for older adults, so we want to ensure our elderly moms and dads aren’t neglected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the disease does more strongly affect older adults. While the overall hospitalization rate for COVID-19 is quite low (121 people per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the rate is nearly triple for people 65 and older. Thus, we want to do what we can to ensure that our elderly loved ones aren’t affected.
In an era of physical distancing, mask wearing and constant sanitization, how can we spend time with loved ones while also helping to ensure their health and safety?
It’s possible to visit elderly loved ones here in Whatcom County, but it takes a little extra caution and care. Below are a few essential ways to show care for your mom or dad while visiting.
Remember that the virus can be spread by people without symptoms. Even if you feel perfectly fine, it’s possible that you’re infected with the novel coronavirus and thus can spread it to an elderly loved one. Think about where you’ve been recently and what interactions you might have had through which you could have picked up the virus. It’s probably best not to visit mom or dad if you’ve been all over the place out and about.
Wear a mask. Feel free to smile and wave without a mask from a safe distance away, but if you’re going to be having a conversation close to your loved one, it would be a good idea for both of you to mask up and play it safe. Person-to-person spread via respiratory droplets is thought to be the primary way that the virus spreads.
Meet outside. Given how the virus spreads, the likelihood of the virus spreading outdoors is much lower than it is inside, according to research. If you have the opportunity to visit on the porch, in the yard or in a public park, take it. The weather is beautiful in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, so it’s a great time to spend time outside chatting or playing a brain-boosting game with your loved ones.
Don’t stay too long. According to the CDC, the risk of spreading COVID-19 increases the more closely people interact with each other and the longer that interaction lasts. Planning what you want to talk about before you arrive at mom or dad’s house can be one good way to keep visits short. Breaking up visits over several days — a few minutes today, a few minutes tomorrow — can be another option (plus, spreading out your visits gives loved ones something to look forward to).
When visiting an elderly loved one in Lynden, Bellingham or elsewhere in Whatcom County, a few simple actions can help decrease the chances of spreading COVID-19.