How to talk to your parents and grandparents about the coronavirus
Here are a few tips on how you can speak to them about the coronavirus and convince them to make the necessary changes.
A large part of the country is in lockdown. If you’re in one of the affected districts, you may likely be feeling anxious and worried right now. Not only for yourself but for your ageing parents or grandparents as well, seeing how they may be at an increased risk of complications from the novel coronavirus . Since there isn’t going to be a vaccine for a while, the best course of action is to avoid contracting the virus. This can only be done by taking strict precautionary measures. While some of your elders may be open to doing this, others may put up a great deal of resistance. Here are a few tips on how you can speak to them about the coronavirus and convince them to make the necessary changes:
Explain the disease
While they may have read and heard enough about it, explain the disease to them yourself once - after doing thorough research from trustworthy sources. There is a lot of misinformation out there which may lead them to assume things about the coronavirus that isn’t true. While explaining the flu-like symptoms, make sure you also explain that it is much more deadly and infectious than the flu. Give them the facts and figures - how many people have got it, globally as well as in India, which states have positive cases, in which ways it can spread and more. The first step is to get them to accept the new reality and let it sink in.
Discuss at-risk populations
Everyone over 60 has been advised to stay at home. Same goes for anyone who may have diabetes or lung, kidney or heart diseases. Many of our parents and grandparents have a history of these. Tell them how they may suffer more if they get the coronavirus if they have any of the underlying conditions. Explain that your information comes from extremely qualified health experts from across the globe. It’s not an easy task to talk to your elders about the consequences. But, unfortunately, if they seem resistant to making changes, you might have to be a bit blunt when stating the mortality rates and how a large part of the ones dying are the elderly. If that doesn’t work, talk about how they may spread it to their friends, neighbours and family member if they get it - it’s a guilt trip for sure but may make them see reason.
Help them plan
It’s important to have a plan. Help them jot down their daily activities and needs first. Try and see which of them can be done differently - for example, see if you can put them on a grocery delivery service instead of them going to the neighbourhood store to buy essentials like milk and bread. If they have any future doctor visits or tests, ask them to call their doctors to reschedule anything that isn’t essential. If they need any medications for the next month or two, try and get them delivered to their doorstep. They may have a routine they’re used to. Suddenly not stepping out will not be easy to get used to for some - tell them about social distancing for if and when they step out for a walk to get their daily exercise and some fresh air. Ensure that they know this doesn’t mean they can sit and chat with the neighbours or go pick up the groceries themselves.
Change the way you contact them
Many of us live nearby or even with our parents and grandparents. If you live with them, try to limit yourself to a certain part of the house or maintain three feet of distance from them at the very least. See if you can avoid sharing bedsheets, utensils and even furniture with them for the time being - if any of us get the infection, then these everyday use items can also carry the virus from us to them.
You can still talk to them on the phone or get them to use the video calling feature. New technology is tough to adjust to so take time and go over it step by step. Maybe even have them jot down the instructions in case they forget. It would be great if you could also connect them digitally with their friends and other family members. Social contact is very important in such times - the risk of loneliness and depression while self-isolating is very high.
Regular updates and check-ins
Check-in with them regularly and keep filling them in on the new developments. Try to give them some positive news even if there isn’t always a lot of it going around. It’s important to keep their spirits high and give them some hope. While the cases are increasing in India and the focus is on that, keep them updated on the increasing number of recoveries and news about vaccine trials. Check-in with them daily and ask them to be honest about how they’re feeling and their needs. Encourage them to ask you questions they may have about the precautions or any piece of related news they may have come across.
Screaming and yelling out of frustration will only push them away farther. Be calm when you speak to them - even if you have to go over the same things multiple times. While necessary, it’s not easy to turn your life upside-down. Change takes getting used to. They may disregard your advice many times. Keep at it, though, don’t give up just because they’re being stubborn. Don’t punish them by not talking to them because they’re being unreasonable. Take the high road, express your concern and love for them and hope they come around.
Introduce indoor activities
Ask them to dust the old carrom board and ludo - or help them download an app for it. It’s important for them to stay busy and happy. Sitting at home worrying will only further make them feel like they’ve been imprisoned. Playing indoor or online games, watching old movies they love or reading new books can be a way of keeping them engaged. You can even introduce them to audiobooks.
For more tips, read our article on Coronavirus.
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