How To Know When It’s Safe To Visit With Grandchildren

Pandemic fatigue is setting in for many Americans. After months of isolation, self-quarantines and social distancing, many people are feeling lonely, bored and in some cases depressed due to being separated from loved ones for such an extended time. This time has been particularly difficult for those who have been separated from their grandchildren. Across the entire world, grandparents have missed milestones - like recitals, graduations and weddings - and missed conversations, playdates and hugs. In the United States, each state is setting its own guidelines and many are starting to reopen. But as a result, there are lots of conflicting messages out there. So, how do you know when it’s safe to visit with your grandchildren?

Acknowledge Feelings 

This pandemic has been very difficult for anyone, but those over the age of 65 are more apt to face feelings of isolation as they are more likely than other age group to live alone or with just a spouse. Combine these feelings of isolation with concern about staying healthy and you have a recipe for heightened stress and anxiety. It’s important to acknowledge the legitimacy of these feelings. The statistics regarding the risks of COVID-19 for people over the age of 65 are concerning and the risk is greater for seniors who also have chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease or a weakened immune system.

Communicate Clearly 

This is an awkward time for many families. Some family members may be acting in a way that others perceive as “risk taking”, while other relatives may feel that some are being too cautious. Some may feel that visitors are putting them at risk by “stopping by”. Others may feel hurt if they are barred from visiting. The sadness that many grandparents feel from being separated from loved ones is very real. However, visiting those who have been in contact with the greater public can be very risky. Ultimately, each person has to weigh the risks and decide what’s right for them. If you do decide to visit your grandchildren (or allow them to visit you) be sure to first discuss the visit with their parents. It’s important to lay out “rules” that you and all family members will follow before, during and after the visit to ensure that everyone is on the same page and stays as safe as possible.

Tips for Safer Visits

Here are some precautions to take for a safer visit with grandchildren (or other family or friends):

  • Consider meeting outside. Weather permitting, make a plan to meet outside at a park, a backyard, a garden or somewhere else outdoors where you can distance yourself from others outside of your inner circle. Coronavirus transmission is far less likely in the outdoors, especially if you are committed to staying at least six feet apart. 
  • Wear a mask. The studies have proven that wearing protective face coverings helps cut down on the spread of Coronavirus through respiratory droplets. Be sure to wear the mask during the entire visit. 
  • Avoid physical contact. Transmission can occur through touch, breath and speech, so it’s best to avoid hugging or touching. Learn to say “I love you” in sign language or form your hands into the shape of a heart instead! 
  • Wash hands and wash them often. Before meeting with family members, wash your hands immediately for at least 20 seconds (sing the “Happy Birthday song” twice). Be sure to pack hand sanitizer too, especially if visiting an outdoor venue. Then, wash them vigorously again afterward.
  • Don’t visit if you’re sick. If any member of the group (or anyone they live with) is experiencing sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, coughing or stomach issues, reschedule for another time. 
  • Opt for small groups. Risk increases with each person that you are exposed to outside of your household, so start with a very small group - just immediate family members, for example. 

At Echo Lake, the safety and comfort of our residents is of paramount importance. We adhere to strict communicable disease mitigation techniques. Contact us to learn more about our luxury retirement community and to schedule a virtual tour.