For immunocompromised individuals, COVID-19 has meant spending a year in isolation. No more visits from friends, family, children, grandkids or anyone else that they normally see. Those of us who are immunocompromised have to deal with the loneliness of isolation combined with the fear of potential sickness or even death if they risk going out. This is especially true for seniors, who are generally at the worst risk for illness with or without a pandemic.
Many of us have loved ones who are dealing with this, and there are a few ways that we can help show support and love for them. Unfortunately for now, it can’t be a big hug and a conversation over cups of coffee. So, we have to consider new ways to show how much we care and help them through this difficult time as much as we can. For seniors, knowing how to maintain your family bonds from afar can be a lifesaver.
This will be a lot easier with loved ones who are more familiar with technology. If they aren’t as familiar, that will probably mean a little more work for you. Make sure you take the time to help them get their device set up and ready to go. Unfortunately, this will need to be done over the phone, but most devices are pretty simple to set up. So, take the time to walk them through the set up.
Once they do have the set up complete, you’re ready to video chat. While it may not be exactly like being in person, video chatting can do a lot to improve mental health and make you feel like you’re together when you can’t be.
Really put effort into learning the tools that let you do this. You don’t want to waste your visit time with frustrations over connections. It’s harder to get help when people can’t come over to visit, so do what you can to familiarize yourself with the new technology.
Family dinners are probably on hold for immunocompromised individuals. While we all miss Aunt Ruby’s famous mac and cheese, we just can’t be together right now. So, ordering a meal to be delivered to their home can bring them a little bit of relief. Not only will they not have to worry about cooking, but they also won’t have to risk a trip to the grocery store.
To further help avoid trips to the grocery store, another way to ensure that your loved one remains safe is to have their groceries delivered to their home. For immunocompromised individuals, a trip to the grocery store can be a huge risk during a pandemic. Many companies offer grocery delivery with just a few clicks, and you can sign them up for contactless delivery with most companies.
Continue Sending Holiday Gifts
In a time like this, a little bit of normal goes a long way. We may not be able to come together to celebrate holidays and birthdays, but that shouldn’t stop the gift of giving. There are so many unique gift ideas that can be ordered online and delivered right to your loved one’s home. Many websites even offer gift wrapping and cards to add your words of well wishes.
Some Gift Ideas For Your Isolated Loved One
- One-person games
- A streaming service
- Stylish chemo headwear
- A new hobby (paint set, puzzles, sewing kit, etc.)
Schedule Regular Talks
Whether it’s video chatting or phone calls, talking with your loved ones regularly is very important, especially now. Immunocompromised individuals can begin to feel very lonely in isolation and phone calls or video chats can help, but it’s important to make sure that you are speaking regularly. Check on your isolated family members regularly, and make sure they are healthy physically and mentally.
Encourage Honesty and Practice Empathy
Sometimes, it can be easy to dismiss the struggles of the people around us. It’s important to be able to recognize the struggle of other people no matter how they compare to our own. Dealing with isolation can seem like no big deal compared to our own issues, but we need to start having difficult conversations with loved ones in isolation. So, don’t be afraid to asking more probing questions, and make sure that when they are honest with you, that you use empathy. This is a big change for everyone, and your loved one may be struggling. So, encourage them to be honest with you, and make sure they know you won’t judge them for it.
Why Does All This Matter?
The pandemic has hit most of us pretty hard. With mental health issues on the rise, there is a good chance that the “rock” of your family may be struggling. Maybe you can provide physical items to make their lives a little easier. Or they may just need some socialization. Either way, reach out to your isolated loved ones and check on them without being dismissive of their feelings.
While we finally have a glimmer of hope, we don’t know how long this pandemic will last. The unknown aspects can be overwhelming. The freedoms that immunocompromised people once held are now limited. So, take care of them.