Even though leading health experts advise wearing a mask and keeping socially distanced during the pandemic could save lives, we know that too many people are ignoring this advice. Certainly, some are refusing to take prescribed precautions because of political views. Others choose to ignore these safety recommendations when it is not convenient for them. All of us have both the right and the responsibility to set boundaries for our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others around us. But sometimes other people will unwittingly try to push us beyond the healthy boundaries that we have set for ourselves.
Challenges to Setting BoundariesMy husband and I are older adults. Fortunately for me, I am a very healthy, active sixty-eight-year-old. My husband is 78 and has a few underlying conditions. Because of our ages and my husband’s health issues, we have been extra careful about establishing clear boundaries whenever we interact with others – whether when receiving professional services or when interacting with family and friends. For the past few years, I had been seeing a naturopath that I really liked. While I was a bit uncomfortable with all the political literature and signs in the office, I did appreciate the care I had received. But when I last visited the office in June, I noticed no one was wearing a mask (except me). I asked why masks weren’t being required. I was told that the virus was probably a hoax, but if it had any legs, the sunshine would kill it. At that point, I had to make a decision. I value my health, my husband’s health, and the health of others around me. Staying healthy is a priority for me. I had believed that the care my naturopath offered supported my health and wellbeing. But when I realized that politics had taken precedence over respecting COVID safety boundaries, I knew it was time to make a change.
When Blood is Not Thicker Than SicknessAs hard as it has been, we have not allowed family members and friends to visit us inside our home unless they had basically been in quarantine prior to a visit. When we did see anyone else over the summer, we met outside on the patio. I have also met with a couple of friends while sitting outside, socially distanced, at a local coffee shop. My husband and I live hours away from our closest family. We miss having family visits in our home. As the holiday season is quickly creeping upon us, we are already facing some difficult decisions. One of those decisions involves a dear family member, her husband, and her teenage son. All three of these family members are responsible individuals but are regularly out and about. They would like to come for an overnight visit next month. They have offered to wear masks inside our house and stay in a motel during their visit. We want to see family, but we also have to weigh the risks. How would it work for all of us to wear masks in our home for several hours? What would meals look like since we won’t be able to go outside or leave the windows open? Is there a safe way to have anyone in our home at this point? Would it make any difference if our guests slept somewhere else after visiting with us for 8-10 hours? Emotionally, we’d like to throw caution to the wind. But we cannot compromise our health or the health of others because of our feelings. We are both feeling uncomfortable at this point. My husband has decided he will talk to his doctor—someone he trusts—for advice on how to establish safe boundaries. We realize that it is possible that holiday visits might have to wait until sometime next spring. How are you setting safety boundaries during this pandemic? What challenges are you facing when trying to establish these boundaries? Do you feel confident that you are doing everything possible to protect yourself and others?