Is it Safe to Visit Older Family Members at Home?

Is it Safe to Visit Older Family Members at Home? article image

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Stay at home orders are finally easing up. But is it safe to visit older friends and family vulnerable to complications of COVID-19? Phone calls and video chats are great, but what if your parent relies on you for help around the house? Managing logistics while keeping your distance is even more complex when the older person’s cognitive skills are compromised.

Balancing the risks Coronavirus may be spread both by asymptomatic carriers and those who feel sick, meaning any in-person visit carries some level of risk. But if you’ve been feeling well and taking good precautions and have access to protective gear, then you can try to resume some kind of [real life] connection. Here’s how.

Consider the likelihood that you’re infected. No one’s risk of carrying the coronavirus is zero, but if you’ve been healthy and at home for at least two weeks - you haven’t even set foot in a grocery store - then the chance of you carrying the virus should be relatively low.

Prep the kids - or leave them behind. Don’t risk bringing young children to Grandma’s house unless you’re confident they understand that they won’t be able to go inside or hug her. You’re doing it out of love, not fear, and it’s temporary.

Don protective gear. At a minimum, everyone should wear a mask. Some sort of eye protection, even sunglasses, should also be worn since it’s possible to transmit by touching the virus and then touching your eyes. Gloves may also be worthwhile.

Stay outside. Preliminary research suggests that virus transmission is less likely outdoors, and especially if you stay at least 6 feet apart. If you have to go inside, take your shoes off, keep your mask on, and wash your hands right away.

Make it quick. The longer you’re together, the higher the risk. Longer than 15 minutes is considered ‘prolonged exposure.’ Any longer, stay 6 feet apart.