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Maintaining Relationships With Social Distancing Norms

6 May, 2020

, Social Distancing

The need for social distancing as a means for survival has put the entire human race into a quandary. We have been living as a social animal, and ‘contact’ with others is much needed for our survival. Who can contest the strength and warmth of a hug to tide through the toughest of our times? And yet, the COVID-19 safety guidelines issued by WHO clearly mentions that we need to maintain social distancing. We are not even allowed to shake hands, forget about a hug. These strict measures are needed to ensure that the disease does not spread.

The problem of social distancing

For senior citizens, this is a double whammy; for many of them, the socializing was the only bright part of their life. Warm hugs and simple gatherings were a great refuge from the rigmaroles of the fast-paced lives led by their families. For those whom the children and grandchildren were living in other states or countries, it became tougher. Since the mortality rates were seen to be high among the seniors, all governments requested senior citizens to not step out and stay safe.

While initially, there were panic and teething issues, almost all state governments have set up home delivery of essential items and medicines and helplines to assist the population. And with the lockdown 3.0, many states have eased the restrictions a lot as well. However, where seniors are concerned, it is important to keep up the vigil, and stay indoors as much as possible, and use home delivery facilities, etc.

The solution

Maintaining social distancing only means that we are not allowed to go out and meet people; nor are we allowed to invite people into our houses to the extent possible. That does not mean that we cannot talk to the people around us. There are neighbors, and other people in the community and the housing complexes with whom you can interact, from a safe distance. With your family and relatives who are far off, you can always make calls. If you feel like giving or receiving a warm hug, try video calls. You could still be emotionally connected with people and maintain all your relationships, despite social distancing.

Many video calling apps are available for making free calls like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime. Even WhatsApp allows you to make group video calls if you want to bring in more family members from other locations. Alternately, if you are mot comfortable making the calls, you could request your family to schedule the same and learn to pick up the calls or click on the link to join the calls. Most of these apps will allow you to do so without much ado.

You could try to catch up on movies, or shows on the Telly. If you are a bit tech-savvy, joining virtual groups is a good idea to keep yourselves occupied. There are many groups based on interests like cooking, reading, traveling, etc. The key to survival during such times is to ensure that you are ‘in touch’ with people virtually, if not physically.

Understanding emotional lows

Many experts have put forth the fact that there is a good chance that people can fall into a depression, or feel low during this time. Hence, it is important to be in touch with people, and reach out for help if you feel that there is any issue. This could be not feeling like getting up from the bed, not eating, not being interested in anything, not taking medicines, etc. It is important to keep your mind active, by following regular schedules, including exercising. Follow the news closely to know what is happening in your city, state, and country.

 Ensure guidelines are followed. Take medications (if any) regularly and use reminders if needed. This is important as if you miss the medications, there could health issues, and emergency hospital visits are not as easy as they were earlier. Please feed all the local emergency numbers into your phone for use in any untoward situation. Even if travel within the city is now allowed in a few cities, please take extreme care and venture out only if it is essential. In case you have been living alone and finding it tough, you could move in with some other family member in the same city for the time being, if the option is available.

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