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Posts Tagged ‘social distancing’

With the holiday season almost here, discussions are being held to determine the best practice to celebrate without putting ourselves in the path of the coronavirus.  Older adults need to be exceptionally careful, especially those with high blood pressure, heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.  These Seniors face a greater risk of developing severe COVID-19.

In-Person or Virtual?

Holidays are a time for families and friends to come together and celebrate the season.  It is understandable that many still want to get together and celebrate the season.  Your decision on whether to stay at home or get together face to face needs to be based on your own health, risk factors and how your community (or the area you plan to visit) is faring.  Before you make your plans, check local transmission rates.  According to researchers at John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, there should be a two-week decrease in COVID-19 cases and a low overall rate (less than 10 per 100,000 people over 14 days).  

If you are in an area with high levels of COVID-19, it is wise to stay home even if you are otherwise in good health and have no preexisting conditions according to practitioners at the Cleveland Clinic.

Virtual Holiday

Should you choose to celebrate this holiday separately from your family and friends, make it memorable.

  • Connect via a digital platform, such as Zoom.  This allows you to do everything from sitting at your Thanksgiving dinner table, watching grandkids open presents or singing favorite songs on a computer.
  • Overhaul your traditions.  Mix up a favorite holiday recipe and send out to everyone! 
  • Create new virtual traditions.  Host a game night on an app called Pogo.  Or watch your favorite holiday movie simultaneously via an app called Netflix Party.
  • Schedule several virtual tours for the holidays. The Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Museum of Art offer many options.

Face to Face Celebrations

In person celebrations are not perfectly safe.  However, a few steps can reduce risks significantly.

  • Wear a mask.  Social distance and wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay as local as possible.  Stay within a 2-hour drive from home.  This minimizes the need to stop along the way.
  • Plan for small and short.  The fewer people you are with, the lower the overall risk.  Keep indoor get-togethers under 10 people and limit to 1 hour. 
  • Bring your own.  Ideally, everyone should have their own food and utensils.  Takeout is an option.  Ask for food to be packed in separate containers for each person.
  • Try staggered eating times, so people from the same household can eat together at the same table.  Consider eating with spaced-out seating.
  • Limit alcohol.   The more people drink,  it is challenging to stay masked and follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Skip the singalongs.  When people sing, small aerosol particles are released into the air and may propel the virus into your 6-foot safety zone.
  • Wash your own dishes to limit cross-contamination
  • Paper plates are safer to use than regular dishes
  • Wipe and sanitize common areas
  • Do not use serving utensils or pass dishes

Remember to pass on the hugs and keep everyone safe.   Be Well this holiday season.

Written by Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County  lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Centers of Disease Control:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

Illinois  Department of Health:

https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/holiday-season-safety-tips

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person in black sweatshirt looking in window at her grandmother

Through a window, via Facetime and a cell phone — that is how people are saying goodbye during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know, we experienced this last week.  Two of us experienced this with a death of a family member within 24 hours of each other. One death from COVID-19 and another from natural causes, yet the final goodbyes were said without physical touch or personal intimacy with the families.

Susan’s Story
The last day of March 2020 ended with many tears. I received word that my Aunt Patty had died from complications of COVID-19. She was an active and healthy woman with a life-long passion for learning. She made history by becoming the first lay female Catholic Chaplain assigned to a U.S. Military Hospital.

Patty was in the hospital for two days prior to her death.  No visitors were allowed to see her. When Patty took a turn for the worse in the middle of the night, her daughter was awoken to a phone call saying her mother was dying, but she would not be permitted to be in the room with her because of the danger of the disease spreading. 

The family requested a priest be present to perform the Last Rites.  This is usually done face to face with the priest anointing the sick. However, the priest was barred from being in the same room with Patty. He performed this religious sacrament over an intercom while the nurse held Patty’s hand. Patty’s daughter said her goodbye to her mother and a final “I love you” over the phone. Those were her last moments with her mother. A funeral is currently not possible because of the government’s limit on 10 people or less being together.  The family is planning a traditional funeral mass to be celebrated in four to six months from now.

Girl with hand on forehead - a screen shot from a facetime phone call

Shannon’s Story
On April 1,2020, I never imagined that I would have to say goodbye to my Baba (the name some Russian grandchildren call their grandma) through a FaceTime chat with my sister. Ohio had a “Stay at Home” order in place, and traveling to New York was out of the question.

I found out that the facility where Baba lived was not allowing anyone in the room.  This was the opposite of what I had expected. I had always envisioned Baba’s family surrounding her, playing games, and talking, as we held her hand,  being next to her. 

However, due to this awful COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, that was not possible. Baba lived on the first floor of a nursing home. Her children, as well as grandchildren were able to send their love and communication with her only through her window. 

My sister said, “I  taught her  how to say ‘I love you’ through her glass window. So that’s what we did. We smiled, we cried, we said we love each other, and we blew kisses. All through a glass window. I would have risked getting what she had.. Just to have been there with her while she passed. To have held her hand, to have told her it’s okay, you’ve been strong all your life.”

Girl sitting in a chair looking into a window

The night before our grandma passed, my sister called me. She was outside of Baba’s window in the rain and cold, face pressed against the glass, looking at her grandma. My sister only had a sweatshirt on, but refused to leave the window. She told me that nobody should have to die alone.

Through the FaceTime chat with my sister, I could see Baba periodically glance up, and gently smile at my sister.

 My sister said, “It got to the point where there were no more times she looked over. There were no more times she opened her eyes.” My sister didn’t want her grandma to wake up and see she was  alone.

The hardest thing for my family was to walk away from that window, knowing it was the last time any of us would ever see our Baba alive. I cried because I couldn’t be there physically and hold her had. I wanted to tell her one last time I love her.

Later that night, my mom had called to let me know that Baba had passed.

A burial for Baba was held two days after she passed. Only 7 people were able to attend, all practicing social distancing. It was unusual for my close-knit family not to be able to give hugs to one another during this very emotional time. For me, not being able to attend her burial was very difficult. My mom and sister called me after the burial, and we grieved together over the phone.

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County and Shannon Smith, MFN, RD, LD, CDCES, Ohio State University, Wood County

Reviewer: Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County

Photo Credits:
Photos taken by Shannon Smith and Kristy Smith

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  2. https://mhanational.org/covid19
  3. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/04/07/828317535/coronavirus-is-changing-the-rituals-of-death-for-many-religions
  4. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/09/30/healthy-brain-aging/
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html
  6. https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/OHOOD/2020/04/02/file_attachments/1418062/Signed%20Amended%20Director%27s%20Stay%20At%20Home%20Order.pdf
  7. https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/covid19/
  8. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/202003/covid-19-and-the-grief-process

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One colorful large circle with six smaller colorful circles around it connected by arrows

Flatten the curve, a term many of us weren’t familiar with until a few weeks ago.  Now we know all too well flattening the curve means social distancing, in order to slow the spread of a virus.  We have been asked to change the way we live, work, eat, play, etc.  Almost immediately, our daily routines have been turned upside down and we are all reacting to it differently.  Many are heeding the advice to alter life as we know it.  Others are ignoring the call to urgency or choosing to live in denial.  Some people are struggling with the rapid changes.  No matter how we are responding to this, we are all trying to understand what this will mean in the weeks, months, and years to come. 

Growing our comfort zone while flattening the curve is a unique situation but it can be done.  Many of us are probably already being stretched simply because we are not working outside our homes, we are spending 24/7 with our families, or we are being charged with homeschooling our children.  We don’t have the luxury of going out to dinner, visiting with friends, or taking in a movie or sporting event like we are accustomed to doing.  These are unprecedented times that we will likely not have to navigate again in our lifetime but can help us to grow and learn. 

In order for us to not just get through this challenging time but to thrive we must be open to growing our comfort zones.  I think this could be an opportunity to get used to being comfortable while being uncomfortable.  What is a comfort zone and how do we grow it?  Merriam-Webster defines comfort zone as “the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity”.  It’s a place you feel like you are in control of your surroundings and you are hesitant to make a change.  As we embrace change and try new things we begin to stretch, expand, and grow.  Are you going to need a shove or a nudge for this growth?  It’s true, most people don’t like change.  People tend to be perfectly content keeping with what they know and following status quo.  In order for us to not only get through this challenging time but to thrive we must be open to growing our comfort zones. 

I encourage you to view this time as an opportunity.  An opportunity to focus on your family and yourself.  Embrace the slower pace.  Re-evaluate your routines and seek to try new things or do things differently.  Allow yourself to think outside the box because the way we function over the coming weeks will forever change our lives and the world we live in.  Do your part to flatten the curve and grow your comfort zone!

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, OSU Extension Educator, Belmont County, dunfee.54@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Alisha Barton, OSU Extension Educator, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

References:

Godoy, M. (2020, March 13). Flattening A Pandemics Curve: Why Staying Home Now Can Save Lives. Retrieved March 23, 2020, from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/13/815502262/flattening-a-pandemics-curve-why-staying-home-now-can-save-lives

Comfort Zone. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comfort zone

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/network-round-hand-write-circle-1987214/

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