Tips for Extended Families Living Together
How to Keep Every Member of the Family Safe During a Pandemic
As of 2016, a Pew Research Center report found that nearly 20 percent of Americans—that is more than 64 million people—live in a multigenerational household. Multigenerational families are those that have individuals from more than two age groups residing in the same home. This is most commonly adults living with both their parents and their children, but it can encompass any family dynamic with multiple generations living under one roof.
While this trend is growing throughout the United States, it does pose unique challenges during a pandemic. The End Stage Renal Disease National Coordinating Center (ESRD NCC) has put together a helpful resource for multigenerational households to help them stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. While they are speaking directly to families with an individual who suffers from chronic illness or an advanced renal disease, like kidney failure, their guidance applies to any multigenerational family. We are highlighting some of their central tips below.
Consider each family member’s unique vulnerabilities and needs.
- Grandparents or Senior Family Members
Grandparents are typically among those most vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their age. They may also suffer from a chronic illness that will put them at an elevated risk. It will be important to keep these individuals safe and also to provide for their mental, emotional, and social needs during a time of isolation. They may need assistance utilizing telemedicine to stay on top of their routine medical care.
Adults are usually those juggling care for their aging parents and their children. They are also those most likely to be out and about running errands, so they need to closely follow protocol for wearing masks, sanitizing, and social distancing. Keep in mind that with this responsibility comes significant stress. It will be important for adults to find outlets for their stress, prioritize their health and wellness, and practice self-care.
Teens are juggling a desire to be social with wanting to adhere to the restrictions in place for social distancing to keep their family safe. This situation can be very difficult for teens, particularly with their varying knowledge about the pandemic. The best thing you can do is talk regularly, share as much information as possible, and be sure to listen to their questions and concerns.
Explaining and managing a pandemic with young children can be very challenging. Do your best to promote the idea of staying at home as a way to keep everyone in the family safe and healthy. Let them have fun with the idea of being a superhero and wearing their mask.
Have a plan in place if someone does get COVID-19.
Even when you are doing your best to prevent the illness from entering your household, it is possible that a member of the family could get the virus. The ESRD NCC recommends that you determine in advance your plan if someone does get COVID-19, including:
- Having the infected individual wear a mask in the house.
- Having that individual use a separate bathroom if at all possible. If it is not, have that individual clean and disinfect the shared bathroom after each use, if well enough to do so.
- Implementing a no-visitors policy for the entire family during the quarantine period.
- Opening windows for ventilation if sharing a bedroom with the individual.
We encourage you to take advantage of resources available, including specific tool kits and tips for different groups such as videos about COVID-19 designed for kids and their parents and fact sheets for multigenerational families. Remember that although there are challenges to a multigenerational household at this time, there is also a great opportunity for the family unit to strengthen and evolve through spending more time together.
If we can provide any support to you and your loved ones at this time, please let us know.