Amelia, age 4, loved seeing her grandma every day after preschool. When the pandemic hit and it wasn’t safe for the two of them to be together, Amelia had trouble making the adjustment.
“But WHY can’t I see Grandma? When is she coming over?” Amelia asked her mother, who felt bad for both of them.
“I’m so sorry Grandma can’t see you just yet,” Amelia’s mother said. “She has to be careful about not catching the virus that’s going around now. She could get very sick, so we have to protect her.”
As with Amelia, many younger children who haven’t been able to see their grandparents due to the COVID-19 pandemic miss them dearly, and their grandparents miss them too.
“I really want to visit with my little Amelia,” Emma told me wistfully during one of our visits. “But my daughter says it’s too risky for me to see her until she’s 5 and gets vaccinated for COVID. We do video chats but it’s not the same, and Amelia gets upset because she wants me to come over instead.”
“I know it’s frustrating,” I said. As Emma’s care manager, I had helped her learn the technology so she could talk with her family members online, but she had never liked using it much. “But in just a few months Amelia will be 5 and can get her vaccine. Maybe there’s another way you can connect with her in the meantime.”
For some families, meeting outdoors and socially distancing, even if the weather is colder, has worked to maintain connections between grandparents and grandkids. Emma and her granddaughter, Amelia, got together outdoors at a skating rink to have hot chocolate and catch up. I’ve encouraged older children to become ‘pen pals’ with their grandparents, and they keep their bond alive by exchanging letters and drawings. With the challenges we face due to variants and new outbreaks, we need to find whatever means we can to stave off isolation and loneliness, which can be so detrimental to our mental and physical health, no matter what age we are.
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