I live in Massachusetts with my husband and two teenage boys. My parents both live in Florida about 2 hours away from each other. My mother is over 65 and very healthy. She lives with my stepfather and is still working from home. She is very cautious and follows all of the Covid-19 rules and precautions (wears a mask, stays 6 feet apart, gets her groceries delivered, etc.) My father, on the other hand is 69, retired, and has quite a few health conditions including COPD which puts him in the very high-risk category. My brother and his wife and four high school/college age children live in the house with my dad. They are not at all cautious and seem to believe that Covid-19 is not a real threat. From what I understand, visitors are in and out of the house and no one is practicing social distancing. I decided in September to take a trip to Florida to see for myself. Just as I had suspected, my mother was extremely diligent, so I had no worries. My father and family were not really taking any precautions.
When I returned home, I just could not shake the feeling that my dad was not taking care of himself and I was worried about him. I did not feel like my brother was paying any attention, so I decided to take action. I suggested to my dad that we take advantage of some of the social distancing things that others were doing and have morning coffee chats every weekday morning over Facetime. Before he moved to Florida (nearly 30 years ago) we always enjoyed chatting over morning coffee and he was complaining that we did not talk enough and that he did not have a good morning routine. At first, he was reluctant, but then he decided to give it a try after completing a “practice week” on his own. The first week was a little awkward but as the weeks went on, we both started to really get into it. This really gave me the opportunity to kind of check on him every morning. He would talk about his breathing and I could actually see when he was physically run down or not himself. Because of this, I decided to buy him an air purifier for his room. I thought that it might help him to feel a little better. You would have thought that it was the best gift anyone ever bought him. He does not stop talking about this air purifier and he is actually breathing better.
My dad has a standard morning routine now and he often comments about how much this 15-minute coffee chat has really helped him. He has more of a sense of
purpose and has improved his overall sense of well-being. He even sets an alarm and gets up and has started to go to bed earlier. It has changed both his life and mine. I had been struggling for a while to make that shift to becoming a caregiver for my aging parents. Before Covid, I had no idea how to care for my dad from 1200 miles away. Now I have figured out a simple way to check on him and to understand and see how he is doing every day, and he doesn’t even know I am doing it :)