They say that the number of grey hair is equal to the amount of experience in life a person has. Indeed it is true, since the geriatric section of our society and family forms a huge number with a large amount of experience to themselves of various situations in life. Although they may be experiencing a pandemic for the first time, they have seen way lot and way much more than us and that can be denied.
Knowingly or un knowingly, they usually are taken for granted since they are the “retired” lot of the society and the home arrest is perceived to have made no difference to them since “they are as it is at home” kind of a notion. Its common to think like that, as we barely know what they do after we have left for work or rarely do we check on their routines. Well, those who do, kudos to them all !
No matter whether they are at home all the time with you, away from you or anywhere else, it is important to acknowledge that they too undergo stress during such times. Its important to check on them be it personally or virtually. The stress and fear is of the unknown and also the concern is more so about the dear ones. It becomes our responsibility to help them cope with such stressful times. A few strategies are listed for your use.
1. Address all their questions about the pandemic with utmost honesty and clarity. Avoid providing excess information. Do not forget to be an optimist in your approach.
2. Motivate them to continue their daily routines. Try participating in it with them. Try doing the simple breathing or physical exercises which they do daily in your absence.
3. After your working (from home) hours are done, plan for a family chat time where in they share experiences of their childhood. Help them relive those moments.
4. You may be making a particular receipe your way all this while, but now you can ask them their way of doing it. Try making it in that way. Let them participate. Let them be the “head chef” for that day.
5. Make them feel resourceful by asking them their opinion on certain concerns you are facing generally. Ask them for their perspective. You may choose not to implement it, but knowing does no harm.
6. Try learning a hobby that they may be good at. Or have a timed competition for solving the sudoku puzzle. Try playing card game of their times. Or any indoor game of their times.
7. Most elderly have questions about technology and we dont have time to answer them in our busy schedule. Utilize this time to upgrade their technical skills. Trust me, they feel so good.
8. Orient them to new ways of shopping like grocery, apparels, vegetables and fruits, restaurant food, medicines, that can be delivered online. If possible arrange for their consultation online. Let them know where the world is heading.
9. Participate with them in some of their religious practices can be interesting. You may also help them download an audio version of the religious script that they may be reading. An evening chanting session may add immense happiness and solace to everyone’s life.
10. The most important thing to do is show unconditional positive regard and reassurance that this pandemic is a phase and it will pass. Keep communicating and that is the key.
Remember that our elderly community forms a big number in the society. I am certain they don’t expect great treats from life, their happiness lies in the care, concern and love that we can shower on them. Some may feel that once the pandemic is over and we go back to our usual routines we may not be able to fulfill these things which are doing now for them. Trust me, they too know this and may be they know it better than us. That is precisely why the “grey matter” counts! Take care and stay safe.