How to educate older people about Covid-19 and encourage them to distance themselves socially – 5 tips
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that Covid-19 can be particularly dangerous for the elderly. Nevertheless, these do not take the warnings seriously and do not pay attention to maintaining a sufficient distance from other people, nor to the necessary hygiene. And that doesn't just worry their children and grandchildren. The lack of understanding and possible ignorance can also drain your nerves. We have 5 tips that can serve as a guide if you have older people in the family with whom you want to have an understandable conversation.
Why do older people handle the coronavirus so lightly?
There are three main reasons why the elderly are not taking the epidemic so seriously:
- On the one hand, they have experienced many other dangerous situations in their lives (wars, other epidemics, the Cold War, the fear of nuclear war, etc.). Risky and stressful times are therefore not new to them and therefore do not cause the same panic as in younger generations).
- The fact that many retirees and older people in general still feel very fit and healthy should not be underestimated. For this reason, they do not want to see that they have an increased risk of infection with Covid-19.
- People like routines. They give a feeling of comfort and normality. This is especially true for older people. If the routine gets mixed up, it can affect a person's psyche. Isolation can lead to depression. And the feeling of loneliness that older people feel during such social distancing seems more real than the invisible virus. That is why they are more likely to not stick to the measures.
Elderly and Covid-19 – Find the Right Person
Just as you have more confidence in some people than you think in others or are more credible, so it is with all other people. Especially when it comes to parents and children, parents are usually not ready to listen to the younger generation. After all, they should be the ones who give you tips and wisdom for life and not the other way around.
“Sometimes older people still see their grown children as their little children. If this is the case, I would recommend the adult child to find out which person the parents would be more likely to listen to and thus be more suitable for the conversation, ”says Jenn Leiferman, PhD in philosophy and director of the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center and lecturer at the Colorado School of Public Health. Such people can be long-term family friends, siblings or even a pastor.
Educating older people about the corona virus – the right tone
Nobody likes to be checked. If you choose the wrong arguments or even the wrong tone, a reaction of defiance can result and you achieve the opposite.
“In your conversation, stress that the reason you want to raise the issue and want your parents to change their behavior is that you love them and want to spend many years with them. The conversation can quickly appear to be about control. Try as hard as you can to make it clear that it is about love and not about control, ”recommends Dr. Alexandra Stockwell, relationship expert and founder of “Calm in Chaos”.
Ask a lot of questions
This should start the conversation. Try to find out what the reasons for the behavior of the parents are and listen carefully. Why don't you want to follow the protective measures? Repeat each answer out loud. This is how you show them that you really listen and follow them.
“Any conversation with a parent who doesn't follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be approached with respect and curiosity. Righteousness or a condescending attitude are the wrong way. It doesn't matter how much an adult child thinks they're right, because most parents won't be impressed, ”explains Stockwell.
Leiferman recommends: “You can often get older people to change their behavior if we find out what motivates them to do so. Unlike telling them what to do, you can help parents identify and find ways to change their behavior. ”
Provide information from reliable sources
Older people, and possibly your parents, often trust the wrong sources. Especially when they have access to the Internet, it can quickly happen that they come across articles that downplay the situation and describe measures such as social distancing and ordered isolation as overreaction. Therefore, make sure that older people are also informed on the right pages and that you inform yourself sufficiently before the interview so that you can answer any questions.
Accept that you can only control yourself
If after the conversation about Covid-19 your parents still do not want to protect themselves enough, they only have to accept this decision. Leiferman then recommends that the elderly be treated with respect, love and support. Under no circumstances should the situation degenerate into a dispute that will make you stop talking to each other.
It is important to stay connected and by that we mean connected by phone or internet. After all, the elderly should be able to get help if the worst comes to the worst and should be able to inform you about everything. However, if you are angry with each other, there is a risk that your parents will not contact you if necessary.
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