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Infectious Diseases

Is It Safe To Visit Ageing Relatives? What You Can Do To Minimize Risk

Posted on 21 May 2020

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As countries around the world relax lockdown measures, many of us finally have the opportunity to visit friends and loved ones after months apart. However, while lockdown may have been loosened, the threat of the virus isn’t going away any time soon, and so one should carefully consider the risks when visiting older relatives, especially those who are more frail and at risk. Here are some common sense precautions you can take if you do decide to visit older loved ones:

Think through where to make a visit safe. Can you go outside? We have learned that the novel coronavirus does not spread as easily outdoors compared with being inside in enclosed spaces. Can you get Grandma outdoors to see you? Is a picnic with precautions feasible?

What safety measures can you put in place now? Masks for everyone of course. […] Handwashing for everyone after touching anything is essential. Carry hand sanitizer and use it if you’re outdoors away from a sink. Use social distancing with all family members. The more frail your aging parents are and the more health conditions they have, the farther apart you should stay for your family visit. Ten feet is not too much if your loved one is in poor health to begin with, as we know that in some situations, the virus can be carried on the air for more than six feet. Okay, if they’re hard of hearing, you’ll have to accommodate by really speaking up.

If you plan to share a meal, have the portions prepared ahead of time and put in boxes or covered disposable plates so that there is no passing dishes around. Use gloves to handle things you give your loved ones and dispose of the gloves after use.

Should you touch your elders? Should kids give them a hug? There is no easy answer. […] Keeping masked faces away from each other is one possibility with a quick hug. Letting small kids hug grandparents’ waist or knees is another. Using protective coverings on your bodies and theirs is a possible other precaution. […] If I had a grandparent I wanted to visit, and hug, I’d make my own garbage bag gown with plastic bag sleeves and gloves so I could make a hug work with minimal risk. Some families have devised wonderful plastic barrier structures to allow hugging grandma.

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