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  • Julie Katz

When older adults just won't stay home

How to get them to take the pandemic seriously


"I just ran out to the grocery story again today for the two things I forgot to buy yesterday."

"We went to two different markets because the second one has the chicken salad I really like."

"My pharmacy offers delivery but its $5 and I don't want to bother them. I'll pick up my prescription."

"I go out then tell my children about it. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission."





Are you hearing things like this from the older adults in your life since mid-March? The very people who need to stay home seem to be the ones who are unconcerned with the need to stay at home as much as possible. What gives?


There are probably several reasons some older adults don't seem to heed the warning of public health officials:

  • There is confusing information out there that is constantly changing. This is a novel virus after all.

  • Older adults have lived through wars, weather disasters, inflation and recession and come through it. They may feel this is just one more thing to endure.

  • They may be getting their news from only one source (usually television) and lack the resources to see all sides.

So what can you do to try to keep them from going out for frivolous reasons or when delivery is an option:


  • Have a person they trust, like a physician or trusted relative, tell them they need to stay closer to home.

  • Order groceries and do on-line shopping for them. Older adults may not have a computer or not feel comfortable or are unable to navigate on-line ordering.

  • If you live close, offer to pick up groceries and necessities for them.

  • Remind them how many people are important to them. While grandchildren may not be dependent on their grandparents, they will be devastated when they are gone, especially if it was preventable.

  • Work with them to keep them busy (see my previous blogs) so they are not going out because of boredom.

  • Model good behavior yourself.

  • Don't blame yourself if they go out despite your best efforts. They are adults after all.

Those who have been affected by COVID-19 know this virus is serious. It has had a severe impact on older adults. Keep them safe as much as possible.

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