How to Help a Friend or Loved One With COVID-19 From Afar
. Currently, the United States has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and many individuals are looking for ways to help those affected.
Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute, here to discuss ways to think outside the box and offer support to friends or loved ones from a distance. Al: Thanks for joining me. Mihaela: Thank you for having me. Al: It can be difficult to know that a loved one or friend is sick, especially with COVID-19. Many of us want to help, and this can be very challenging when are unable to visit or be physically close. What do you suggest? Mihaela: Helping nowadays does require a little planning and creativity, but anything that you think they’d appreciate that can be done from a distance will show them you care. For instance, picking up groceries or prescriptions and dropping them off at their doorstep or doing an outdoor task for them, such as watering their plants or sweeping their porch, if they’re okay with it. Al: What is a way to lift their spirits if you live too far from them? Mihaela: Send a care package or any thoughtful gift. I recently shipped a book to a friend by her favorite author and that made her very happy. Something else you could do is make them something. For instance, you can send them a hand-drawn sign with an uplifting quote that they can post on their wall, if they want. You can even just text them something as simple as a list of movies or podcasts they would enjoy. Al: These are small actions that seem like they would have great impact on showing our friends and loved ones that you are there for them and you care. Anything else people can do? Mihaela: Yes, you can simply reach out. If your friend or loved one has a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, they may be especially vulnerable to the effects of social isolation. Reaching out to them can help them stay well mentally while they isolate. Some ways to do this is through video-chatting, texting, and calling. Of course, if they are too sick or not in the mood to talk, you can always send a letter to show your support. Al: Any other tips on reaching out to someone who might need you? Mihaela: Yes. It may be helpful to be intentional when reaching out. Treat the person with respect and dignity, this means respecting the other person’s privacy, confidentiality, and listening nonjudgmentally, according to Mental Health First Aid. To find more tips on supporting others from a distance, check out NAMI’s blogpost Ways to Stay Connected During the COVID-19 Crisis. Al: Thanks, as always, for the great information about how we can safely help our loved ones and friends who are sick. This episode of ClearPath is dedicated to my mother, Nancy Waller, who died on December 8 of COVID-19. She was 89. I hope everyone is staying safe at home and remember to check-in with your loved ones and friends regularly. That is all we have time for here on ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth on WYPR, your NPR news station.