The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic has so far rippled across the world, with millions of active cases(infected people) out of which thousands have managed to recover and possibly overcome the disease. So far the global death counts stand at 379,427 and if measures are not strictly followed people may continue to die.

In this regard, many countries such as Canada, Australia, Nigeria( Lagos and Enugu for now) and others have imposed lockdowns and strict quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Scientists, governments, and politicians have also recently introduced/added social distancing to the existing measures to help reduce or end the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease worldwide.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is a set of infection control actions put in place by public health officials with the main objective being to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease like Novel coronavirus or COVID-19. This action is expected to be carried out or practiced by humans living in countries where viral infections are spreading rapidly. This practice means inhabitants of infected countries should avoid coming into contact with people and if you must, maintain physical distance.

Tips to practice social distancing

Cancel visitation – Do not accept visitors into your house and stop visiting other people’s houses including your loved ones. Instead, visit your loved ones by electronic devices like Skype.

Study and take classes online – To limit contact with people students should switch to online classes for learning

Avoid public places – Going to restaurants, parties, pubs, clubs, sporting events, can make transmission easier and faster try to avoid such places.

Stay away from your office – Do not go to the office instead of work from home if you can. Discuss your idea and interest with your employer to reach a considerable agreement.

Stop local and international travelling – Avoid travelling to high or low disease spreading countries until the infection or disease is contained.

Host meetings online – If you can’t cancel or postpone meetings and large conferences, the alternative is to host them online through any of the video and audio enabled communication devices.

Buy your essentials – Stock up your house with foodstuff, drinks, cosmetic products, multivitamins or dietary products and other items you may need while maintaining social distancing.

Distance yourself – Keep a distance of about 2 meters or 6 feet away from everyone should you have a need to go out of your house or home.

Social distancing is for everyone but the people who need to practice it the most are:

  • the over seventy (70+) years old people,
  • the sick especially those with respiratory problems, heart disease diabetes and other underlining health conditions,
  • and pregnant women.

Limiting the contact you have with others not only reduces your chances of catching the virus (COVID-19) but passing it unto others. Therefore it’s important all hands be on deck to stop the virus from spreading and reduce the pressure on the health services.

How to talk to elderly parents about social distancing

Speaking to the sick and expectant mother on the importance of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic may not be as challenging as talking to the elderly or parents. Older people seem to be the most difficult set of high-risk people to talk to about things like this. But like they say “nothing is without a solution”.

Here are a few simple steps experts suggest can be used to make older people including parents, caregivers, uncles, aunties, etc understand the importance of social distancing.

1. Get a trusted person if you know they might not listen to you

Most elderly parents still see their adult children as kids and may not listen even if what they want to tell them will increase their years on earth.

If you have a strong relationship with your parents and you know they listen to you then that’s a plus as it would be easier for you to make them understand why they need to change habits (practice social distancing) to avoid COVID-19. But if your relationship with them is not too strong, it is best you invite someone they trust and feel comfortable with to speak to them. This trusted person can be a family member, family friend, or even a pastor.

2. Start with a question

Starting with a question while trying to have a conversation with your parents about social distancing in the midst of coronavirus spread will help you assess their feelings about the pandemic and hint you on what next to do.

You can begin with questions like;

  • “have you heard about this coronavirus that is spreading worldwide?” wait for their response before asking
  • “Hope you have been protecting yourselves and how have you been doing that?”

If their response shows that they are underestimating the severity of the coronavirus disease, ask another question – “Do you want to know what I’m worried about?”

Their reply will then usher you into making them see reasons why they need to maintain social distancing by all means.

You can tell them what you’ve done to prepare for the pandemic such as, buying groceries canceling plans and stocking up on at least 30 days of medications. This process will make them not feel forced or compelled into doing anything. If you are not living close to them, offer to have their medications and other essentials mailed or delivered to them.

3. Avoid being harsh and pin your purpose to love

People including the elderly parents don’t respond well to harsh words or tones so be mindful of how you present the coronavirus social distancing issue to them. While trying to make them agree to what you are telling them, point it out clearly that the main reason you are doing so is because of your love for them. Let them know you really want them to stay longer on earth to enjoy more fruits of their labour.

With calmness, patience and lovely words, you can convince them to practice social distancing as a way to protect themselves and other family members against the infections of COVID-19.

4. Share trustworthy information sources with them

Just to make sure your elderly parents get correct science-based information updates on the coronavirus pandemic, share with them trusted sources ( like WHO and CDC) of the information. If they are not familiar with how to use the internet, you can refer them to trusted local or international TV channels as well as radio stations for updates.

Note: it’s important you ask them first their sources of information before referring them.

5. Accept the outcome

Be courageous and strong enough to accept whatever that comes out of the conversation. If they agree to what you have told them on how to protect themselves against the 2019 coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 as the case may be, be happy and support them and if not you still have to wear a smile, respect their decision, show them love and support as always.

Do not allow rejection to change how you feel about them as it may damage your relationship with them or affect future conversations.

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Sources:| Johns Hopkins, Healthline

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