How (and Why) to Support High-Risk Individuals During a Pandemic

How (and Why) to Support High-Risk Individuals During a Pandemic

Are you done with the excessive efforts to limit virus exposure? Maybe feeling as though wearing a mask, social distancing and limited capacity at your favorite digs are just getting to be too much?

For many families dealing with a high-risk illness, the COVID-19 pandemic response measures are old hat. The majority of these individuals and their families already factor some or all of these additional steps into their daily lives 365 days a year, 24/7. For those of us in this situation, ignoring the possibilities of exposure and infection are not optional.

It is a matter of life or death.

Those are bold statements, I know. However, that doesn’t change the reality. Heightened vigilance around the countless microscopic cells that rage war on the bodies of those we love is crucial

Was that cart cleaned? Did Timmy lick the handrail? How are we going to tell our parents we cannot attend our holiday get-together because Aunt Lisa is ill? Will work allow us time off if Johnny is hospitalized? What if this virus becomes life-threatening for our child?

Speaking from personal experience, this is a heavy burden to carry. An offer to share the load from family and friends goes a long way to helping these individuals and families feel supported.

What can you do to help these high-risk individuals now and well after the COVID-19 pandemic passes?

Here are a few considerations:

  1. Call Ahead With Updates — When you or someone in your home is ill (or have been exposed to others who have been), call these families in advance to give them the option of not gathering. Otherwise, whether intended or not, you may be passing along feelings of guilt to the people you care about most.
  2. Thoroughly Clean — If you do gather, put a little extra attention into cleaning common surfaces. Reaching out to explain you have not only thought about these aspects of their visit, but also taken time to factor in their needs. This will help put their minds at ease and allow them to enjoy your time together.
  3. Be Flexible —  Forgoing a certain event or gathering without these loved ones seems inconceivable. Instead, extend an offer to reschedule when you or they are well.
  4. Join In — For those requiring masks in public places, consider wearing a mask yourself. This is especially appreciated by children and young adults who are sensitive to what others may think of them.
  5. Serve others — If you have the means and time, prepare a meal or gather ingredients for a meal, to save them a trip and prevent added exposure to the virus.
  6. Share a Little Love — In the worst case, if they are hospitalized, resist the urge to visit and instead send cards, balloons, or activity books to entertain their long hours without further exposure to other illnesses.

While this may seem like a lot to ask, taking even one of these steps will provide feelings of comfort, comradery, and support to those high-risk individuals waging battles against illnesses that already alter so many aspects of their daily lives.

Consider the steps as an act of kindness and love, rather than of annoyance.

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