There is conflicting information about how important it is to wear a protective mask and whether they do any good against coronavirus.
It seems masks are most valuable to protect others from you if you have a bug. But, especially if you are an older adult, you may want to wear one because it reduces your stress or to keep away germs other than COVID-19 or because masks may prove protective, although inclusive at this time.
If you do opt to wear a mask, how will young children feel when they see their grandparents or any older person wearing one? Perhaps they will feel afraid, curious, amused. We can’t be sure of a child’s reaction. I have a childhood story of my own. It makes me very sensitive to the issue of telling children about illness or even illness prevention.
When I was five years old, my grandmother had a stroke and was taken directly from the hospital to live in my Aunt Rose’s house. Her new home was the top floor of our two-story attached home in Brooklyn. My Aunt Rose was a registered nurse who held a full-time job in a local hospital and could take care of my grandmother.
My grandma sat propped up on a chair for almost two months, without the ability to move much or speak. Those were different days. And although well cared for, she didn’t have much stimulation.
She looked frozen to me. So, one day I decided to talk to her. Both my mother and my Aunt Rose were there, and they were delighted that I wanted to be helpful and bring a bit of cutesy cheer into grandma’s life.
But no matter how many songs I sang or antics I showed her, my grandma did not move. In exasperation, I took a hairbrush and threw it at her.
What a commotion! My mother and Aunt Rose were beside themselves. And yes, they yelled at me.
It’s too late now, but I often wondered if they should have explained the meaning of stroke to me. I wonder if they assumed that ignorance is an excellent protection for a child. Well, it’s not.
Now I have a grandchild of my own, soon to be two years old. If the sequestration lifts, I will visit her in California in April for her second birthday. Because I will be in several airports, I will wear a mask, although I do not regularly wear one.
In the hopes that I will see her and that I may need to explain why Lolli and Pop are wearing masks, I took a few minutes to create this little story that you can show or send to your little loved ones.
If you cannot access the video, here is the video’s simple message. Kenny wonders why his grandparents are wearing masks. His parents are stumped as to what to tell him, as were my parents long ago.
But Kenny’s grandparents have the know-how to explain that many people wear masks for many reasons—to be in a play, to go to a party…even Skippy, the racoon, seems to wear a mask.
Sometimes we wear masks to keep germs away or to keep our bugs away from others. Protecting others from our viruses means we are kind to others, which is so important. The video ends with explaining that we all must wash our hands and concludes with 20 seconds of You Are My Sunshine, as Kenny and his grandparents go to the park.
I admit the video shows the grandparents as smart, active and loving…but, hey… promoting the beauty of aging is my goal.
That’s why, in this extraordinary time, when folks must distance themselves, stay home more and eschew their usual activities, many older adults are now mentors, because we know how to be happy at home.
If you know anyone of any age who is thriving at home and has made the best of their more restricted lifestyle, get their hints and tips, and send them to me at email@example.com. I have arranged to have them posted on social media across the generational spectrum as “What Grandma and Grandpa Know That You Need to Know Now!”
Adriane Berg is the host of www.GenerationBoldRadio.com, author of The Retirement Income Explosion. Adriane has won the National Librarian’s Award for Young Readers for The Totally Awesome Business Book for Kids and The New Totally Awesome Money Book for Kids.