Question: I really miss visiting my grandkids and want to know when I can visit with them again.
Staying apart from our loved ones during the COVD-19 crisis has been one of the most difficult things to cope with during this time. In Ventura County, we are moving to “Phase 2” of the reopening. Phase 2 allows certain businesses to open with modifications, including office-based business and retail shops with curbside pickup. While it may start to feel that we can reduce our own personal restrictions on visitors and social distancing, there are guidelines everyone still need to follow. Everyone should continue to wear masks in public and maintain a safe 6-foot distance from people outside of your home.
While our County has done an excellent job in slowing the transmission, the risks of the virus have not changed. Unfortunately, we still do not have a vaccine or a cure. As an older adult in the high-risk category, it is important that you ensure your own protection.
There are ways to do this that are still safe for you. As scientists are studying the outbreaks, they are learning that most of the cases were contracted in an indoor setting. Gathering with your family in an outdoor setting, where you can maintain the 6 feet or more distance between you, is the best option if you feel this is comfortable for you. If you have a yard, you can ask your family to bring their own lawn chairs and come and sit at a safe distance from you. This way you can talk and visit in person. If there are grandchildren involved, you want to consider if they are old enough to understand to keep their distance. Very young children will not grasp this and may run up to hug you. If this is the case, it is best to avoid these in person visits because it would be more upsetting to tell them no and have their parents have to hold them back.
Another option is using your phone or the internet to communicate on video with your loved ones. I know many birthday parties, social gatherings and even support groups are happening over Zoom right now. Zoom is a video conferencing program that offers a free version for the public. If you have access to a computer with a camera this is a great option for you.
I do not think any of us imagined that isolating at home would need to continue for so long when this all started. Now that we are starting our third month of staying at home there is an isolation fatigue that is hitting us all. We must remind ourselves that even though it is difficult, it is saving lives and our health and protection are the utmost importance.
Loneliness and sadness from missing being with people is a very strong and common emotion right now and one that we cannot ignore. These feelings can lead to depression, which takes a physical toll on our bodies. Finding ways to combat loneliness is almost just as important as ordering food right now.
Talking on the phone helps, but doesn’t provide the same emotional fulfillment as seeing your loved ones in person.
Look for the ways you can maintain your emotional and social connections to people in a way that protect you physically. Drive by parades, kisses through windows, Zoom celebrations and driveway distanced visits are some of the creative ways people are finding to stay connected during this time. Talk it through with your loved ones and find the ways you can “visit” in a protected and safe way. It is a beautiful thing to have loved ones to miss visiting and hopefully knowing they are there thinking of you provides some comfort as well.
Not knowing when this will end takes an emotional toll. Until there is a vaccine, a cure or enough tests to be done regularly on all of us, we will need to maintain the social distancing.
Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.