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Respect Your Elders: The Already Socially Distanced

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

The elderly. They built our society before us, giving us a foundation on which to stand and to grow. They taught us how to cook and play checkers; they told us stories of "the good 'ole days" with wise words; they taught us life lessons and--for those of us fortunate enough to have grandparents--made our childhoods some of the best times of our lives.

More likely than not, you or someone close to you has an elderly family member who resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Some of these senior citizens are lucky, and have family who come visit them; others are not so fortunate. But they all have one thing in common: they are sent to these facilities because their family can no longer take care of them. This may be because their days are too full with hectic work schedules, kids, travel, may also be because the elderly family member is a "handful." Maybe time whirls on by, and we--not on purpose, of course--don't think about our elderly loved ones as much as we used to. We might even...forget about them?

Perhaps that elderly family member has dementia, or full-blown Alzheimer's.

Nursing homes and similar facilities across the U.S. are on total lockdown due to COVID-19. This means no one goes in, and no one--except for staff--comes out. We can't visit our loved ones who are living inside. According to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, there are about 1.4 million people in the U.S. living in a nursing home. Senior citizens are said to be among the most prone to COVID-19.

That's a lot of vulnerable people to keep locked up together.

And what about those with dementia or Alzheimer's, who can't even remember why they're at this facility? Imagine living in a virtual cloud of confusion, cloudiness, and uncertainty. Now they might be thinking: Why hasn't my son/daughter/grandchildren come to visit me?

You see, even if your elderly loved one doesn't have Alzheimer's, they may not be totally up to date with what's going on outside their facility. Let us not write them off and just assume that they're being taken care of and being kept up to speed. Alzheimer's or not, your family member may need reminded that we all must practice social distancing, and that's why you haven't come to visit them. You can't catch COVID-19 through a phone call (as far as we know, anyway). Remind your elderly loved one that you love them. That you're still here. That you're still thinking about them. And that you'll come visit them as soon as this quarantine is lifted. They need that hope.

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