Covid-19 And Ageing Parents

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter” famously said by Satchel Paige. Covid-19 is effecting the most vulnerable and most of the deaths are in the over 70 age group. My parents are both 84 and since the outbreak and especially the cocooning, I have unfortunately noticed a deterioration in their physical and mental health. I somehow became their carer without ever realising it and I am happy to do it. It is something I have been doing for the last 20 years but more so in the last 2 years. It is tough watching loved ones age and that is made harder if health problems exist. I can’t imagine how they must feel and even think about the fear involved. 

Most of us live a busy life and find ourselves preoccupied with our schedules and that is very normal. I have being making some mental notes of my experience of the good things I have managed to do and the not so good. The worlds ageing profile has grown massively over the last 50 years. In Europe consistently low birth rates and higher life expectancy are transforming the shape of the EU-28’s age pyramid; probably the most important change will be the marked transition towards a much older population structure, a development which is already apparent in several EU Member States. In the U.S. the share of the population younger than 15 and older than 65 years has also increased in recent years. In China in 2019, population aged 65 years and above for China was 11.5 %. Population aged 65 years and above of China increased from 3.7 % in 1970 to 11.5 % in 2019 growing at an average annual rate of 2.32%.

Madeleine L’Engle once said, ‘The great thing about getting older is that you don’t loose all the other ages you’ve been.” That is so true and looking back over myself I have changed so much, physically and mentally. You can still be productive in your own life whist giving your ageing parents care and attention. Without a doubt it is isolation, boredom, and loneliness which is effecting my parents. Mobility is now becoming an issue and I worry that since the outbreak they have lost the ability to drive or because of everything driving would now be dangerous and this in turn will compound all of the above mentioned and certainly their independence! I listen to my folks talking about old friends and unfortunately a lot of them have died and this definitely has an effect on them, it is so tough. Even at 50, I miss some friends whom have died and death does scare me because my children are still young and need a lot of parenting to ensure they are ready for the world. The opportunity for our parents to attend social engagements are gone for the time being and friend can’t be visited or even friends can’t visit them.

Looking after my parents has become a top priority and the thought of them going to a nursing home is not an option I will take. I am lucky I live pretty close to my parents and can visit them daily to check in on. My daughters can video call and they love this. Of course they would love a hug from them but during this pandemic it is not an option. So virtual hugs are all the rage in my house.

It is not difficult to maintain frequent contact with your ageing parents. Even if you are not living close to them, technology lets us see each other and it means so much to them. Imagine if you could not see your child! There really is no excuse not to be contact with all the technology we have available to us. I am lucky both my parents are alive it would be so much harder if it was just one parent as I fear they would fall foul of depression.

I visit my parents on average 6 days out of a week and the day I don’t visit they ring me to see if I am ok. During Covid-19 if possible try to call on them. I can’t explain how much it means to them. Despite all the technology in the world there is no substitute for a physical visit. It works two fold where it is good for you to check on them but it is super good for them to receive a visit.

If your parents are not using modern technology, and mine were not! I urge you to teach them or quite simple write out clear instructions. A lot of these can be found online and a quick copy and paste and enlarge the print they will have the know how. Remember to turn up the volume. This is also of benefit to them and keeps the boredom at bay. There is also a whole new world for them to explore and chat about. They can also keep in touch with friends. My dad had a zoom coffee date with a group of his friends and my mum is on FaceTime to her sister!

Remember ageing parents need the attention of us, their adult children. I makes them happier and safer.