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Dad Wants Out - Literally



"My dad has had enough of “safer at home” and insists that since this is almost over, I should take him to the store with me. He is going stir crazy and hears that the number of new COVID-19 cases is beginning to peak. Therefore, he wants to be released from the stay-at-home rule.

I believe it’s too soon, and need some words to use to convince him. What do you suggest I say?

By the way, my dad is 88 years old and lives mostly independently. I drive him about and do some household chores."



Your father feels like everyone at this time. We all wish this were over. Those of us in healthcare want you all to continue to stay in, though.

If dad listens closely to the daily briefings in their entirety, he will hear that new cases will spike again should social distancing end too soon. The reason new cases of COVID-19 are peaking right now is because a large percentage of the population is not exposed to each other and not because the virus has left town. The more people who practice social distancing, the fewer who get exposed, and that decreases the number of new cases. So unless you’ve already had the virus and recovered, or are naturally immune (which, not too many seem to be) the risk remains high as new cases continue to be diagnosed daily.

If too many people become critically ill at the same time, then the healthcare system will be unable to care for them. That’s when some go untreated, and deaths become more common.

This virus clearly spreads easily, and the elderly have the weakest immune systems. Also, those with comorbidities like high blood pressure, heart disease or lung issues are very high risk.

Right now, he needs to stay home. Being out in public is a very poor idea. I’m going to suggest some alternatives:

  • Take him for a drive a few times a week.
  • When you go grocery shopping for him, take him along and have him wait in the car. Park in a prominent place and give him a sign to hold up, wishing others a safe day or something else nice
  • Take him for a walk on nice days
  • Set him up to video chat with siblings, children, grandchildren or friends
  • Ask family members to drop off on his porch love packages with puzzles, cards or other fun surprises

You’re right to be concerned about your father’s health at this time. Being too quick to leave his home could have very bad consequences. Take care of him and show him this column.