As states like Florida ease restrictions that were in place due to the new coronavirus outbreak, family members are talking about whether or not it’s safe to get together again. For senior family members, going a long time without seeing or spending time with grandkids has been tough, and many are more than ready to give those grandkids hugs. However, while it might be OK to see them in some capacity, it’s too early to have a full return to normal contact.
This month, Florida (except for four counties in South Florida) entered Phase 2 of its reopening. Although this has permitted bars, movie theaters, and other businesses to reopen, authorities still advise those over age 65 and those with chronic conditions to stay home and limit errands to only things that are necessary, such as buying groceries. Additionally, the threat of COVID-19 is not gone. In fact, Florida saw a spike in cases the day that the Phase 2 reopening was announced.
Phase 2 has not reopened nursing homes to visitors.
- Think about your recent contact with the outside world. Have you or others in your household been to the store several times recently? Seen friends? Allowed others in the house? Or, have you continued to stay home with little to no exposure to the outside world? If you’ve followed the latter scenario for 2 weeks, you’re probably safer to see older family members than if you’ve had repeated contact with others in public places. Remember, you can have COVID-19 but not have any symptoms and still be able to pass it on to others, which is why exposure to life outside the home is important.
- Stick with an outside visit, and socially distance. Gathering outside is a safer move than gathering inside. Even if you remain outside, keep a social distance of at least six feet. If you’re around adults with chronic conditions, 10 to 12 feet is even better, some experts recommend. One fact to consider: Without a mask, a sneeze can travel as far as 20 feet.
- Wear a mask, even outside. This helps to protect those around you from any respiratory droplets. Wearing protective eyewear, including sunglasses, also can be helpful. It’s possible to touch the virus and then transmit it to yourself by touching your eyes. Eyewear can help remind you to not touch your face.
- Use precautions if you must go inside. If you must come inside to help an older family member with something, follow a few guidelines as recommended by AARP: Take off your shoes, wear a mask, and wash your hands. Have the older adult in another room if possible.
- Decide about bringing the kids. As much as grandparents want to see grandkids right now, younger children will likely have harder time following social distancing rules. Think if your kids are truly ready to respect any limitations. If not, it’s better that they wait a bit longer for that in-person visit.
- Don’t stress over a brief encounter. If the kids get inside that six-feet bubble for a few seconds, don’t worry. What experts are more concerned about is a prolonged encounter, such as a long hug or major face-to-face contact.
- Come from a place of love and concern, not fear. How you frame the discussion of getting together (or not) with both children and older family members can make all the difference. Let them know that any distance is out of love and concern, not fear.
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