Talking with Seniors and Those With Underlying Health Conditions About Social Distancing

March 20, 2020

With the global pandemic of COVID-19 now reaching our communities, it’s more important than ever to adhere to social distancing guidelines. This is particularly critical for the most at-risk groups, including the elderly and those facing life-limiting illness. So how do you engage in positive conversation with loved ones in order to convince them to stay home? Here are three tips:

Set a good example. Tell them what you’re personally doing and why.

If you tell your loved ones to isolate themselves while you invite friends over for dinner, you’ll lose your moral high ground. Become a role model for solo home activities like cooking, exercising or exploring a favorite hobby.

Describe to your loved ones the ways you are practicing social distancing. Talk about events you were looking forward to that have been cancelled and how you intend to spend your new solo free time. Acknowledge that social distancing is challenging for you too, so your loved ones don’t feel they are the only ones who may be struggling. Talk about the precautions you’re taking and why. The “why” is important because it helps you share the most recent facts and figures to support the importance of social distancing.

Become a role model for solo home activities like cooking, reading or exploring a favorite hobby.

Photo by Retha Ferguson from Pexels

Focus on what your loved ones can do.

Telling your loved ones all the things they can no longer do during this pandemic may leave them feeling nervous and frustrated. Stay positive. Tell them now is a great time to read the books that have been piling up on their shelves or watch their favorite shows or movies. They can even tackle the jigsaw puzzle collecting dust in the closet. If they are physically able, going outside to breathe the fresh air in their backyard and feed the birds may put them at ease.

Use concern and don’t be judgmental.

Express your thoughts clearly, but do it in a non-judgmental way. Use “I” statements like “I am worried for your health” instead of “you should be doing more to protect your health.”

If your loved ones are relatively healthy for their age, help them understand they could still be a carrier of the virus and spread it without ever experiencing symptoms. This will help them see that social distancing not only protects them, but it protects others as well.

If your loved ones don’t take your word for it, show them facts and figures from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

Let’s support each other. Remind family you’re all in this together and you’re here for them. There is a lot we can’t control right now, but we can control how we react. Social distancing is critical to protect the health of those around us.

To learn more about Unity Hospice’s services and how we are supporting the community during COVID-19, please visit here or call 1-800-990-9249.

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