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My father-in-law is 93 and is healthy and active. He lives alone now since he recently lost my MIL after 72 years of marriage. This, of course, was very hard on him. Fortunately, my husband comes from a family of 10 and everyone has pitched in to keep Dad engaged and involved. We each take a night for dinner and he either drives over or has dinner at his house with one of his kids.


I know I can't control his decisions or the decisions of the rest of the family but I am so afraid of giving him the virus and would never forgive myself if he got sick after coming here. We've been pretty careful about going out and live in an area where there is only one case locally so far but I know this is just the tip of the iceberg too. We've offered to drop dinner off but I think it would be almost as bad to isolate him. He's a very social person. And he said he'd rather come over like he has for the last several months.


What to do???

Adding this to my previous answer for further consideration: even though my dad is younger, (60s), he has major health problems and fairly recent prior hospitalizations which I would say put him in the same category- even more high risk- than someone in their 90s.

when I first talked to him I was concerned he was blowing it off, until I pushed and he bluntly laid it out for me. He’d die either from the isolation or later from its lasting effects- and that it was ME who had a problem accepting that. Not him.
He accepts that this may be his end. He doesn’t want to die, but he has a right to live life and take the risks on his terms.
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Countrymouse Mar 23, 2020
Your Dad put it to you well.

Doesn't make it much easier to take, though, does it? Hugs, but well done for hearing him.
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The problem is two fold, Dad could be spreading Covid-19 among the family as he goes from house to house.

My Mum is the definition of a Social Butterfly, she at almost 86 is rarely at home for a day. She volunteers, goes to Church, works out at the gym, Dragon Boat season was just about to start. She visits "old People" in care facilities and drives them to appointments. She has friends over or goes to friends homes at least 3 nights a week.

She is beside herself, trying to keep busy at home. She still is taking the dog for his walks, she can do that and avoid people. But she loves chatting with other dog walkers as much as the dog loves interacting with other dogs.

For your Dad is there anyway a family member could move in with him for the duration? That way he will have company all the time. The siblings can still drop off meals to him.
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If I were in your shoes, I would let him come over. I would make sure everyone is wearing freshly laundered clothing. I would make sure everyone has washed hands and faces. I would set the table and countertops so everyone could eat a reasonable distance apart given the space.

One of my best friends from college lives on a cul-de-sac. She told me that around 5 pm, the neighbors bring lawn chairs out to their curbs and they socialize from a distance.

I also saw a picture of a nursing home where the residents were sitting in their open doorways playing bingo in the hallway.

We are being asked to practice social distancing, not social isolation. Social isolation is for people who have symptoms or who have returned from travel.
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I've been meeting my (ex)father-in-law at the dog park. His wife of 65 years passed 2 weeks ago, so now that the funeral is over and the family members have returned home (most out of state and all in state relatives at least 2 hours away) This has been a particularly bad time for the social distancing, I don't want him to be alone, but I want him to understand how important it is for him to stay safe. It's not much but we meet and talk for about an hour on opposite ends of the park bench.
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Daughterof1930 Mar 23, 2020
Very thoughtful and kind of you
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Could you get an tablet so he could use Skype? In my family, which is much smaller, I am the only one around my dad right now. The others come to the door and yell in to him. There is only one case here too, now and hope it stays that way. They can always call him on phone.
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gdaughter Mar 23, 2020
Still probably have to show him how to do it...
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Social distancing can be done just by avoiding groups larger than 10 and maintaining physical distance when you do get together. As long as you are all super vigilant not to let him visit if anyone in the house has a fever or cough and you maintain physical distance and avoid physical contact, I think you are doing everything you can do.
Maybe be extra careful when handling his cutlery, plates and drinking glasses, too. Or use paper products when you have dinner. Make sure no one touches them with unwashed hands.
Kids are often contagious when they have very minimal symptoms so I would advise keeping the children off him too.
He's 93. This could last for months. I'd try to keep the dinners if that's what he'd like to do.
We are all going to have to get used to this new way of doing things.
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Much amused by the people out and about in our little city today (yes I did have to go in!). We'll have to invent a name for the Social Distancing Dance we do when going through shop doorways or standing at service counters - it's like bees' waggle-dancing. Nobody was panic buying, but *everybody* was complaining about everybody who did. I overheard three separate conversations about the Instagram post from an intensive care nurse who had just completed 48 hours on duty, went home via the supermarket because she hadn't eaten, and found the shelves stripped bare. She was understandably emotional about it.

(I expect the staff will have found her something. Our retail workers are utterly exhausted but they are being total heroes when it comes to small but important acts of kindness. Even my local newsagent: the owner noticed that his older, frailer customers were trying to open the door with their elbows, so he's told his team to keep the door wedged open and put a space heater behind their counter.)

I could have bought a packet of nine loo rolls. I only want four. I'm holding out for the non-jumbo stocks - but with three rolls and two boxes of Kleenex in the house, I might be facing a tense time.
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Let him decide. He’s 93, he’s earned that right. He’s earned a say in how he lives, who he sees, and how he dies. For my father, who is much younger, I had a similar conversation. He was straightforward with me- he would die without staying social. He would spend his days largely in bed/asleep in a chair, his days would largely run one into the other, and with the reality that you can only call/interact so much over FaceTime or other virtual products, he would be left with many hours to fill- and only thoughts of loneliness and depression in supply. If left alone he would die.
Even if lockdown ended quickly, he explained, and he survived that time- the damage of being in isolation would linger physically, mentally, and emotionally; he does not believe he would recover.

Now- if it was your FIL, would you forgive yourself for ignoring his wishes, for his mental anguish as he spends his last days, weeks, or months alone, for his death during that time or soon afterwards- potentially never recovering from the time you chose to isolate him?

For some, isolation is an illness far worse than covid19, and just as likely - if not more so- to result in death.
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Daughterof1930 Mar 23, 2020
Definitely true for my father, he fears loneliness far more than Coronavirus. There’s a balance to be struck in this for sure
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Let him decide, and then everybody accept his decision as far as he is concerned.

If others in the family have responsibilities to other seniors, however, they may need to stay away from him regardless in order to reduce the overall risk of transmitting the infection from one household to another. In that case, perhaps they can phone him as often as they would normally visit him?
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'No contact' means 'no contact…..period. No one is 'isolated in these times' as long as they are able to dial a phone. BE SAFE AND KEEP OTHERS SAFE BY TOTALLY STAYING AWAY. MY 92-YR-OLD MOM WANTED TO 'GO ALONG' TO GROCERY STORE WITH HER SISTER BUT 'DIDN'T NEED ANYTHING'…SHE'S 'BORED'. I TOLD HER BEING BORED WAS 'PART OF THIS WHOLE THING', BUT AT THE END OF IT, HOPEFULLY SHE 'WOULD STILL HAVE HER LIFE'. I TOLD HER TO STAY HOME AND ANYONE BRINGING THINGS TO HER SHOULD LEAVE THEM AT HER DOOR'. PERIOD.
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CaringHasValue Mar 23, 2020
people in older gen aren’t necessarily used to expressing their emotion and explaining their feelings to their kids. It’s the moment you look at your child and answer because I said so- it may just be easier to say she bored than admit she’s feeling desperately alone, depressed, and vulnerable - to her *child*

much as we like to think of ourselves as adults and tend to be in the habit of treating our parents like children- the reality is they will always treat us a bit like kids. The boss doesn’t have to admit or even face their own emotional breakdown because a subordinate asks ‘why’.

Your mom May be different. I’ve worked with seniors a long time and what I’ve described exists in the vast majority -
Id go so far as to say it’s the rule and if your mom is different, then she is the exception.
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