1. Please consider the risk
We spoke to Dr. Samir Sinha. He is director of Geriatrics for the Sinai Health System and the University Health Network of Toronto. And this is what it says:
You see, people in those categories are more likely to get seriously ill if they get coronavirus. We don’t want you to be you.
“I think the pandemic has been really tough for everyone, but social isolation is a particular problem for the elderly,” he says. “One of the greatest joys for older people is to see young people in their lives and have intergenerational connections.”
It’s a difficult balance, we know that.
On the one hand, meaningful connections are extremely important: they can enrich and even prolong life. But seeing a loved one means that you will interact with people you haven’t seen in weeks who spent their isolation in an environment other than you. You have to decide if that risk applies to you.
2. Let’s talk about it
Maybe you think that we, your loving family members, have forbidden you from the visit.
“There is this tension among families where older people feel that their families are overprotective of them or violate their rights,” says Sinha.
It doesn’t have to be a deadlock. Let’s talk about.
“It should be a shared choice,” says Sinha. “That person feels why the loved one actually wants to protect them, and this requires a conversation and helps the person understand, ‘While I’m worried about you getting Covid-19, I appreciate that you want to protect me from that.’ ”
Discuss why you want to visit and recognize the risk involved.
- Have you been home and limited your exhibits?
- Or you had to work every day in environments that could expose them to the virus.
If it is the latter, it is better to visit virtually.
3. Follow the safest protocol
There is no way to guarantee total safety. But there we are measures we can all take to keep the risk as low as possible.
Read the recommendations of Sinha, who developed with the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council:
- Take care. Make sure you’re not sick when you plan to visit it, whether it’s a runny nose, fever or stomach pain – any form of illness. We won’t let you visit even if any of us are sick.
- Wear masks. If possible, keep it on for the duration of the visit. If you are asymptomatic, masks help you not to breathe out the virus. (And you can learn how to make your own.)
- Wash your hands. As soon as you enter, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. As a family, we will disinfect frequently touched surfaces prior to your arrival.
- Say hello without touching. Try not to greet us with a kiss or a hug, however difficult it is to resist.
- Keep your distance. Know the drill: keep at least six feet away. We know, it’s strange.
Sinha also recommends that her older patients repeat vaccinations, particularly against flu and pneumonia.
If you do come with coronavirus, there is a greater chance that you may also become infected with pneumonia or flu at the same time. Multiple diseases stress your immune system.
4. Peace yourself during the visit
So, it’s decided – you’re visiting. Now it may be necessary to choose which family members receive the dibs first.
When you visit more people, the chance that you will be exposed to the virus increases, Dr. William Schaffner told us. He is an infectious disease specialist from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
“Start with a few people or only one at a time,” says Schaffner. “This isn’t the time to have a family reunion once every 20 years.”
Here is another consideration that could influence your choice: children under the age of 5 may find it difficult to adhere to social exclusion measures. If they (or you) can’t resist bear hugs or sloppy cheek kisses, consider visiting families with older children, Sinha says.
5. Let’s meet outside
Schaffner suggests choosing large open spaces as a meeting place, such as a park or garden where we can stay safely away from others.
Transmission is unlikely outdoors, as long as we are 6 feet away, thanks to the constant airflow, says Schaffner. But it’s best to wear a mask anyway to prevent asymptomatic transmission if we accidentally get close.
One last thing: we, your charming relatives, love you deeply. These guidelines are not ideal and we have never had to do anything like this before. But if we take these measures now, we will do our part to stop the spread of coronavirus. And when this pandemic has passed, we can bring back the bear’s hugs.
Post scriptum Here are some useful links, if you haven’t seen them yet:
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