This Version Posted: May 25, 2020
HKPR District Health Unit
“Hi Mom… how are you doing? You and Dad both managing well?”
My weekly call to my parents – who live four hours drive away – took on extra poignancy the other night. Both are around 80 years of age, which puts them in the high-risk category for people affected by COVID-19. But they are both relatively healthy, live independently, and can look after essentials (like groceries) which is good.
However, like most, their world is shrinking due to COVID-19. The morning stop at Tim’s is shelved temporarily… the planned outing to the theatre to see the latest James Bond movie (my Dad’s favourite series) delayed. Mom and Dad still take their early morning walks, but I remind them to keep their two-metre distance from others. They’re social, so that can be difficult. The good thing is my Mom is a clean freak, so handwashing and disinfecting are second nature.
My 86-year-old mother-in-law lives cross-town from us, so checking in on her is easier. My son, who is at home finishing his university studies online, calls her each morning to say ‘hi.’ My wife spends most of each day with her mom, cooking, cleaning, helping with errands and trying to keep her mom occupied and distracted from COVID-19.
Loneliness, isolation, worry and despair can be especially hard for seniors to bear during the current COVID-19 situation. Whether a parent, grandparent, older relative or aging neighbour, let’s keep in mind their needs too, and reach out to support them as we can.
A phone call, text, email, video chat, or letter to an older person can do wonders to cheer and make them feel connected. Assisting with groceries, picking up supplies or helping them order essentials online can ensure seniors don’t go without. Respecting grocery store COVID-19 shopping hours set aside for seniors and those with compromised immune systems is also worth doing. Putting off visits to long-term care homes can be a lifesaving gesture.
COVID-19 is with us for now, so helping our most vulnerable is a measure of our compassion as a society. We’re in this together, so let’s do what’s needed to protect everyone!