During these crazy days of isolation, social distancing, wearing masks, disinfecting EVERYTHING, how do we go about dealing with our elders? Those that are still driving, still fairly independent, or still staunchly set in their ways…it’s a big problem! I’m the mom of a 22 year old, and the daughter of an 83 year old. At this point, I am not sure which is worse! The 22 year old who CAN drive, doesn’t live at home anymore and is eager to forge ahead with independence and integrity….or the 83 year old who does not drive, relies on home care 24/7, is used to being the head of the household and “doesn’t take NO for an answer.”
Well, LONG story short, I can tell you that I have tried several things with both, and the bottom line is that the only tactic that worked is:
1. Setting healthy boundaries
2. Reminding that to lose them would be devastating
3. And then Letting it go……..so as to not lose my mind over it!
When I say boundries I mean….figure out what is healthy for you. In my case, I have to see my parents several times a week. This meant that I could not expose myself to any clients, other family, any friends, ANYONE that could have been exposed. I had to tell my 22 year old that I could not spend time with him if he was not completely quarantining…and he understood. Healthy boundary. At the same time, all the staff that come into my parents’ home have to accept the role of socially isolating, they have to take their temps, wear masks, use gloves, sanitize often. Taking my parents out in public is not an option, but rather for walks down the street for now. This worked until this week when my dad ‘GOT SICK OF QUARANTINING” and “wanted to get back to the way it was..” so convinced the care giver to take him to a store and go in without a mask!!! Jump to #2………
When having the conversation about “why would you DO that, after everything we have talked about, and everything you see on the news?”….I was told “I needed some chocolate bars“. At that point, I realized I am not really dealing with someone who is being rational, and that like most people at this stage of the game…it’s more like survival! So I had to pull out the BIG GUNS!
“I would be so hurt and devasted if you got this virus and passed away! Mom would be forever broken! The rest of your children and grandchildren would be devasted!”
I SPOKE WITH MY HEART. I SHARED HOW MUCH IT WOULD HURT TO LOSE HIM. I SPOKE MY TRUE FEELINGS. At that point, the non-rational part of him flipped, and he really got it. “Oh yeah…I guess I didn’t think of it that way.”….
Still really upset about it the next day, a very wise friend said to me “its eating you up, you have to let it go.” She was right. There are so many things in life we cannot control. The ONLY thing I have control over is myself. And I can choose to let this get to me, or I can LET IT GO. And move on……………
Many things about this virus are out of our control. The politics of it, the way others do or don’t protect themselves from it, who it infects and AFFECTS is so random. The ONE and only thing we can control is ourselves.
Self-care, setting healthy boundaries, sharing your loving words, and then letting it go (to the Universe or whatever you believe in) is most helpful!
Below is another set of ways to deal with elders who don’t want to listen to Covid19 guidelines!
All my best
Sheryl Fappiano, LSW, CMC, Owner
Sheryl Fappiano, LSW, CMC, Owner