Have you ever experienced this situation?
You have your parents in your house during this Covid-19 situation.
You love them so much and that’s why you ask them not to go out during this crisis.
You do the groceries for them. You don’t receive guests at home.
You do your best to protect them.
However, have you ever asked if they are OK?
They are probably not OK. Maybe they are unhappy or feeling lonely or useless.
Your Dad might lose your hug on his 70-year birthday because you are practicing social distancing.
You are afraid to go home after working in the hospital while your 72-years old mother misses you.
Your mom, who has had cognitive impairment since a couple months ago, is unhappy because she could not meet her grandchildren.
If you have experienced or are still in those situations now, don’t worry, you are not alone.
It is now happening worldwide. Covid-19 changes our lifestyle, changes our society. The data that we have read from WHO or our government states that older persons are the most vulnerable population in this situation. We are responsible for protecting our loved ones, our parents. But at the same time, we want to give them a good quality of life.
I participated in a webinar session for long-term (LT) care that was organized by LUMC, Leyden Academy and GGD Hollands Midden. Through a panel discussion with elderly physicians, medical ethics, chairman and staffs of LT care institution, public health doctors and researchers, the webinar participants were invited to follow the discussion from different perspectives on how this Covid-19 situation changes LT care; how the regulation for closing nursing homes from visitors (this also applies for the family member) impacts the clients; what is the quality of life of older persons during isolation. Covid-19 affects many aspects of LT care in The Netherlands, and I believe it also influences many aspects in Indonesia, my native country.
I remember a couple weeks ago when I spoke to my mother through a video call. She said softly with a big smile, ‘I feel like I am in jail. Your brother strictly prevents me from going outside. I understand that he wants to protect me, but I am bored.’ I try to understand my mom and also my brother. If she is with me, I will do the same. I appreciate my brother who not only supports his own family but also takes care of my parents, especially during this rare situation. Another story during Ramadhan 2020 is when a friend of mine chatted in a WhatsApp group, ‘I really want to visit my Dad but I will not. He is old and alone. He may not be happy with my decision, but I am also considering his health.’ We tried to address the dilemma: showing interest in others or ourselves; freedom or safety; being protective or taking risks, etc.
Apart from the dilemma of this situation, some good news are being heard, e.g. people becoming creative to take advantage of online platforms; the improvement of telemedicine in health care; people take the opportunity to share their empathy, through their creativity; Eid al-Fitr, which is one of the moments to meet and share love with our family, becomes a meaningful isolation and self-reflection, and many more.
You are not alone. If you have a dilemma about your decision as a caregiver, as a child caring for parents, share your dilemma with people you trust or would want to listen. You can also share with Sahabat Alzi. We hope that in this rare situation, no matter how small our actions are, we will still benefit our loved ones, our parents, and others.
Science Team Alzheimer Indonesia Nederland