• Collaborative

How your children can help their grandparents cope with the stress of Covid-19

Pr. Delorme, Dr. Emma Barron, Dr. Alexandre Hubert, Dr. Eva Stantiford

Your grandparents may be particularly stressed by the Covid-19 crisis. They don’t see you as often as usual and they are forced to stay at home. So they need you! To help them cope with this period of isolation, we offer you a few tips that will make their daily lives easier, and that will make them happier.

When and how to get news?

· Do not hesitate to call your grandparents every day, but while making sure they are happy that you call them. Sometimes, grandparents are not very comfortable with technology. So, video conferences are not always what they prefer. They are often more at ease while using the telephone. Do not hesitate to ask them.

· Ask your grandparents what time is best to call them. Maybe your grandparents are used to take a nap or they have a daily appointment (visit of a housekeeper for example); avoid calling them at this time. You can ask your parents for help if you don't know how to ask your grandparents.

· The conversation should not last too long. No need to spend hours on the phone. 10-15 min are enough if we call each day to give news.

· During the day you can send them emails, SMS, or WhatsApp if they have the application. They generally love to receive pictures of you doing activities or homework. You can send them photos and the next day you can comment on them.

What should I tell my grandparents ?

· The easiest way is to tell your daily life with details. You should share your daily concerns. It’s often the little things you do during the day that most interest them. Simple things that happen in your life, while you’re confined at home. You can tell them about your friends. You can also tell them about your concerns. It won't stress them out. On the contrary, they will have the impression of being useful and this will make them forget their daily life. You also take care of them by sharing your worries and anxieties with them. Grandparents love to feel useful. And in this period of confinement they often feel they have no solutions to offer to the youngest.

· Share. It is also important to share the talk time on the phone. There too, don't hesitate to ask them questions about their day's activities, about what they enjoyed doing. There are no unimportant conversations. If you want to ask them how they feel, if they slept well, what they ate, that's perfect. You don't need to ask them every day if they are worried or stressed about Covid-19. You can tell them a little bit but the goal is to try to talk about something other than this epidemic.

· In the context of confinement, you must also encourage them:

o To be careful, for example, to avoid all outings that are not absolutely essential.

o To go for a walk or a little sport (gym) in their apartment, house or garden if they are lucky to have one.

o To play games with you. If they like technology a bit, you can ask them to download board or card games to their phone or tablet. You can play some games at a distance (Scrabble, Chess, Uno...).

o To respect the barrier measures such as hand washing and physical distance. Most people follow the instructions in 70-80% of everyday situations but take risks in 20-30% of situations. For example, they do not think that their neighbor who wants to come close to their window to talk could contaminate them.

Parents' time in conversation

· When you are tired of the conversation or you guess that your grandparents want to hang up, you can suggest to your parents to continue the conversation a little. That way, your parents can also get in touch with them and make sure everything is going well for them.

· As a priority, your parents should ask your grandparents:

o If they have access to their treatments: it is possible, for example, to contact the nearest pharmacy, or the one where they usually go, or put the treatment in the letter box or on the doormat if they are unable to go to the pharmacy.

o In the event that they have a chronic illness or require daily care, your parents can contact home helpers or nurses to send them information or schedule regular calls to hear from them.

o Check that they have enough food for their daily life. Your parents will be able to do the food shopping remotely via a website and have the groceries delivered to your grandparents' home.

o Make sure they know what to do if they have the flu. How to contact the doctor for example (especially if your grandparents live in isolated areas).

In the face of Covid-19, everyone has a role to play and your action can change things!

Translated by Stéphanie Antoun (pediatrician)

48 Boulevard Serurier, 75019  Paris France

©2020 by Dr. Benjamin Landman. Child Psychiatry, Robert Debre Hospital - Paris