Adult children may be wondering how they should talk with their aging parents about the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some tips from the Good Samaritan Society’s Chief Medical Officer Greg Johnson, M.D.

What are the most important things to be communicating to an aging parent at this time?

Social distancing is an investment in safety. I admire the grit and fortitude of our residents. Many of them have been through periods in history where they faced serious hardship. This is one of the times; and just like those times had an end, so will this COVID period we are in now.

What suggestions can adult children offer to keep their parent healthy physically, mentally, socially and spiritually during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Stretching exercises can be done alone and while sitting. Simple stretches include reaching your arms above your head and holding the position for 10 seconds. Stretching is good for circulation and decreases risk of injury during everyday activities.

Emotional and spiritual health in our current circumstance can be challenging, but there is good evidence that prayer or meditation, singing, listening to music, reading a book or talking with a friend all have a positive impact on mental health and well-being.

What are some signs of depression that an adult child can look for if they’re concerned about their parent being isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Withdrawal, lack of interest in the things that usually make one happy, obvious sadness, change in appetite and sometimes irritability can all be signs of depression. It is important to note that a depressed mood is not the same as a major clinical depression and sometimes when difficult circumstances persist, a bad mood can last for a long time.

What news sources should adult children direct their parents to?

I would recommend local news for those that watch television. Coronavirus is playing out very differently across the United States. Local news stations tend to be less sensational and bring local context to this more global problem. Also, if an aging parent uses social media, help them follow your local hospital systems on social media. Most health systems are sending out multiple updates related to COVID-19 each day.