We’ve heard from politicians, doctors, newscasters, it’s time to hear from elders. Yesterday I spoke with Viola. She is one of 2.2 million Americans who live in long-term care facilities. In a lively video call on her GrandPad, I learned more from Viola than from all the pundits filling the airways.
The comments that struck me the most:
“I want to know my kids are safe”
Like all mothers, Viola worries about her adult children as much as they worry about her. Viola’s son and daughter are seniors themselves. She explained, “my children are doing pretty well with all this. Today they sent me these great pictures and I keep looking at them.” Routine connection assures isolated seniors that their children, grandchildren, friends, and neighbors are okay. Regardless of age, it is not healthy to consume a steady diet of anxiety provoking TV news. Assure your older loved ones that you are okay and are there for them.
“I’m not lonesome when I am talking with you”
Physical isolation does not have to result in social isolation. Even a global virus should not force us to be all alone. Now more than ever, people need to find meaningful ways to stay connected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that we create “buddy systems” to make sure vulnerable and hard-to-reach people stay connected. Ask your other family members if they are connecting with older family members and friends via email, photos, phone calls, and video calls.
“It’s good to know I can help you. ”
Hours spent alone are made bearable with meaning. Encourage your older loved ones to write letters, emails, or texts to their friends and families. Let them know how appreciated a call or video call from them would be. Remind them that we desperately need the wisdom and perspective that comes with age.
“I hope we have enough doctors for this thing”
This month, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services was authorized to waive Medicare restrictions on providing telehealth services to seniors during this public health emergency. Telehealth is critical to help limit contagion and provide access to health professionals. As a simple, safe, and secure interface for video calls, GrandPad will be a catalyst for the delivery of healthcare in this era.
“This reminds me of the great depression”
In each conversation with your older loved ones, if you listen deeply, I promise you will learn something new, or a new way of looking at something. In our call, Viola framed this crisis using another crisis, one that occurred in her lifetime, but not in mine. Listen to the words and what is behind the words. When you listen deeply, those who go before us will guide our ability to help.
I will be sharing more “voices from the inside” and would very much appreciate your comments and suggestions.