Save Lives: Avoid Risks To Aging Parents Now

The simplest and most seemingly innocent things are costing lives. It’s natural for us to want to gather, no matter what warnings the CDC issues about Covid-19. Holidays are so important that many people chose to travel for family gatherings, figuring that they could minimize risks by sanitizing surfaces and wearing masks on planes or trains. Now we are seeing the effect and paying the price. Families and friends getting together indoors led directly to many more folks getting sick and dying. Frightening statistics of hospitals being overwhelmed with patients coming into the emergency departments are part of the daily news everywhere. It could be you, or someone you love going there next. Elders are still at the highest risk for developing serious Covid symptoms and needing hospitalization. What can we do?

We have to minimize risks of every kind. It’s not fun to be stuck at home, but it’s far better to be there than in an ambulance waiting outside a hospital emergency room that’s too busy to take any more patients. Hours can go by before the person in the ambulance can be seen by a doctor. This is real. Widespread hospital overload is a direct result of people taking chances: visiting, gathering, being with their aging parents because they want to see them, or just thinking that the risk is small and it’s okay to ignore warnings or skip masks. Wrong!

Right now, my public health nurse self (my first career) is shouting a warning: “Stay home!” Please understand the danger. Please.

My personal injury lawyer self (my second career) is saying: “Stay off the roads!”There are car accidents that happen every day by the thousands. I have seen the injuries too often. I represented injured people for 27 years. We have to adjust to the new reality that one can’t just go to a hospital these days with any urgent accident-related injuries and expect to be seen by a doctor within a reasonable time. Do not risk a car accident by being in a car. Careless drivers and drunk drivers are out there. Take no chances!

There is no doubt that the Corona virus is everywhere and no one can expect to escape every possible exposure to it. But we can do one thing to keep our aging parents safer right now. Do not visit them unless there is no alternative and they have no other way to get what they need. We can urge our aging loved ones to stay home for the time being as well. My work at includes advice to adult children about healthcare, legal and financial issues of their aging loved ones. When they ask, I urge them all to keep elders at home when possible. No moving locations, no travel, no parties, no celebrations except virtually. Providing home care is a better choice now than moving an aging parent to any senior community until the pandemic is under control.

Our aging parents and other elders will be among the first to get the vaccine. That’s the good news. The bad news is, it’s taking longer than it should to get the vaccines into our elders. Regardless, now is the time to avoid going out. As an senior myself, I take the idea of leaving the house seriously. I have never done more ordering online in my life! I go outside to exercise nearly every day and I walk or hike in nearby places where there are very few others and if I see them, they are 40 feet away. That can work if you have the opportunity, though many do not. If your aging parents are getting really tired of being stuck at home for so long, you can empathize, offer support by calling often, using online resources for them and focus on what is hopeful—that we can get vaccinated soon. This will be over when enough of us are vaccinated. The waiting is hard but we can get through it.


The Takeaway

If there is one thing I can communicate today it is to urge, and implore your aging loved ones to stay home and for family members to stay home too. One cannot overstate how serious it is for your aging parent to risk exposure to what is now thought to be a much more contagious variant of the Coronavirus. More contagious means easier to transmit and easier to catch. It’s airborne. It’s worse than ever. We can endure the isolation for awhile longer. The discomfort of feeling isolated is bad but getting any version of the virus is decidedly worse. And not wearing a mask if they have to go out can be a deadly mistake. I keep hoping that the infection surge will not keep taking so many lives, but it’s not better yet. When the vaccine is available, be there immediately. Check your aging parents’ community public health policy about vaccines and ensure that they know when and where to go when the time comes.

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