Life During COVID-19:  Visiting Older Loved Ones Safely

COVID-19 continues to persist as a public health concern with no clear picture of when it may end. Although everyone is at risk, the virus has proven to be especially dangerous to those with underlying health conditions, including older adults. To protect these vulnerable populations, many people have chosen to avoid in-person contact with their loved ones altogether.

Despite the safety benefits, the prolonged separation is taking a toll. Senior isolation and loneliness were already a worrying trend before the COVID-19 outbreak. Avoidance and stay-at-home orders have only exacerbated these health and wellness concerns. In light of this, many people are now looking for ways to visit their older loved ones while managing the risk of making that choice.

Fortunately, there are ways to appropriately balance the risks. If you’re evaluating how to safely visit an aging loved one, here are some things to consider and plan before doing so.

Assess Personal Health

If you’re feeling healthy, avoiding public places, maintaining social distance, and taking protective measures, you’re at low risk of being infected yourself and are less likely to risk spreading the virus to your loved one. If you are spending time outside of your home or living with others who are, you will need to assess the risk you pose to your loved one. While COVID-19 testing can be hard to obtain right now for asymptomatic people, ask your healthcare provider about this if you have concerns about any potential exposure to the virus.

Stay Protected

Plan on wearing a face mask during your visit, and eye protection if you have any concerns about your loved one possibly being ill. Your older loved one should wear a mask too. As hard as it is to not have physical contact, strive to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between each other. This means avoiding kisses, hugs, and hand holding for now.

Remain Outside

If possible, try to stay outside during your visit. Early research indicates viral spread is less likely to happen when you’re not in a closed environment indoors. If you need to go inside, take precautions like opening a window to improve ventilation. Keep your mask and eye protection on and wash your hands immediately when you enter and before you exit.

Keep it Brief

If you are unknowingly infected, longer in-person visits increase the risk of exposing your loved one to the virus. Keep your visit to 15 minutes or less if you can.

Support When You Need It

If you need additional insights or tools to help your family stay connectd during the pandemic, Windward Life Care can help. Contact our team to further discuss best practices on how you can plan and safely visit an aging loved one.