In the midst of the pandemic, it seems safety strategies can vary vastly from person to person. With such a large disparity, discussing COVID with anyone can become a conversation landmine.
This landmine is only exacerbated when speaking with an elderly relative. If you are uncertain on how to discuss the pandemic with an aging loved one, here is a brief guideline.
Move Forward with Love
First and foremost, let them know that you are having this discussion out of love. Explain that you are reaching out because you want them to be safe. This enforces a foundation that you can return to should the conversation enter difficult terrain.
Speaking with a loved one about COVID can be trying, so you’ll want to make sure to plan for tensions rising. Give yourself coping mechanisms should you come to a disagreement. Practice saying the phrase “can I collect myself before moving forward?”
Share Some Resources
The best way to explain where you’re coming from is to bolster your decision with news resources. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control are both great sources to utilize. The goal is to give clear data that explains your point of view.
Choose a few articles or graphs; don’t use more than three, as you don’t want to overwhelm your loved one. If they disagree, ask them to send the resources that they are using. Remember, this is a discussion, not a lecture!
If your loved one is receiving the majority of their information on social media, there’s a likelihood that this might not be the most vetted information. Take the time to calmly explain why this information might not be the most accurate. You can always use third party fact checkers to assist!
Share Your Experience
As stated earlier, this is a discussion, not a lecture. Senior citizens are not a monolith, and your loved one might butt against the information that they should ‘stay home because they’re old’. If you don’t want to fall into this accusatory territory, try to keep the discussion open between the two of you.
Tell your loved one what precautions you are taking, and the reasoning why you are taking them. Explain why you are no longer going to the gym, or why you’ve been eating out less and less.
This personal inclusion frames the discussion away from “this is something that you need to do” and more towards “this is what we all have to do.” Through bringing it from the individual to the communal, you can find common ground to stand on!