By now everyone probably knows the jargon associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns. Quarantine. Self-isolation. Social distancing. While each of these topics shares an important piece of information, understanding the latter is important for family caregivers looking after someone at greater risk for the virus. This May, as we think about National Older Americans Month and the generation that needs more protection, let us share a few reminders about social distancing and how to follow relevant protocols.
First, what is social distancing in the context of COVID-19? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, social distancing is a strategy used to slow the spread of COVID-19. It includes the following:
- Staying away from places where people tend to gather
- Avoiding places or events that attract a lot of people
- Keeping extra space between yourself and others
Knowing this, you may find yourself asking: What are the tips I need for practicing social distancing? Experts urge everyone to practice social distancing by:
- Staying at home as much as possible and staying away from others
- Refraining from taking public transportation such as trains, subways, buses, and taxis, or using ride-share services
- Staying away from crowded places
- Limiting public activities
- Staying at least 6 feet away from others
Social distancing is important not only for you as a caregiver, but also for your family. As the pandemic drags on, you may need to explain why social distancing is still necessary. Depending on the dynamics of what your own family is facing, explaining why you are still limiting family outings and other activities may be tricky. If so, consider the following tips:
- Be prepared
- Be firm
- Refrain from using language that is passive, aggressive or hostile
- Take everyone’s needs, feelings, and welfare into account
- Offer suggestions for alternative ways of keeping in touch with friends and family
- Discuss other ways to engage in fun activities while staying at home
You may also need to explain the importance of social distancing to your loved one that you are caring for. Especially if you are caring for someone who ordinarily socializes outside of the home, it is also critical that he or she understands why he or she cannot do so for the time being. Explain that:
- COVID-19 is highly contagious and you do not want him or her to get sick.
- Your loved one can still keep in touch with friends by phone, etc.
- His or her doctors or healthcare team think it is worthwhile.
- This is not permanent; there will be a time to resume regular activities once the pandemic ends.
We want you to also know that we are still here for you. Please keep in mind that we are also following social distancing protocols during this time. If you have any legal questions or concerns, you can reach us by phone or email to schedule a consultation, at any time.