Should You Visit Your Parents Amid Coronavirus? A Doctor Weighs In
Anyone considering self-quarantining with their older family members should consider this doctor's advice.
In the midst of a global pandemic, it's totally understandable to want to return to the comforts of home. Many young people—especially those living in crowded urban environments—have considered taking refuge at their parents' houses. But 20- and 30-somethings' parents are likely in their 60s or close to it, putting them in the age bracket that's particularly susceptible to dying from coronavirus. If you're wondering, "Should I visit my parents right now?" you're not alone. But we consulted a doctor to determine whether or not that's a safe decision.
"We all want to be with our loved ones, especially in times of high stress and crisis situations," says Eudene Harry, MD, medical director at the Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center in Orlando, Florida. "However, this recent pandemic has us scrambling to curtail the spread of this virus." And that means thinking about things in a way that we never have before.
It might seem outrageous to think that you shouldn't give your mother a hug or step foot inside her house, but according to Harry, you have to ask yourself these very important questions: "Is there a possibility that you could have been exposed to the virus? Do you have symptoms that could fall into the 'mild' symptoms category? Is someone in your family elderly and/or has chronic conditions, such as heart or lung disease, that could increase their risk of more severe disease?"
Considering that some people—including actor Idris Elba—have tested positive for COVID-19 despite not showing symptoms, being in seemingly good health doesn't necessarily mean you don't have coronavirus or won't get it. And if you're not showing any symptoms, it's not recommended that you get tested, which means anyone can have coronavirus without knowing it. As such, Harry's opinion is: "If you have an elderly family member with chronic conditions, wait this one out."
This is especially true if visiting your parents would require getting on an airplane. "The World Health Organization wants to limit exposure to less than 10 people at once as part of social distancing, designed to decrease exposure and spread of virus," Harry says. "Since airports are high traffic areas, we are encouraged to limit our travel unless necessary."
If you do decide to visit your parents, you should follow CDC guidelines, like washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and limiting person-to-person contact by staying at least six feet apart.
Of course, Harry recognizes that "this is a really challenging decision to make: Experience the comfort, warmth, and love of your family in person or make the choice to stay away because you do not want to make them ill." But we're all making sacrifices for the greater good and, for now, FaceTiming, text messaging, or a phone call may have to do.