Hugging Grandma And Grandpa Gets The Green Light With A Few Exceptions
When the pandemic shelter-at-home restrictions went into place in the first quarter of 2020, it initiated social distancing from anyone who didn’t live together under the same roof. And, as you’ll recall, everyone over the age of 60 was considered a very high risk for getting and dying from COVID-19. As a result, there was a moratorium on grandchildren hugging grandma and grandpa for fear of passing the virus on to them, which was perceived as a death sentence.
Gone Without A Hug
Since the pandemic began, in the U.S. more than 400,000 people have lost their lives to COVID. 250,000 of those who died were women, many of whom were mothers and grandmothers. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2021/05/07/pandemic-mothers-day-hurts-those-grieving-moms-lost-covid-19/4949197001/ They died without loved ones near them and without having been recently touched by a child or grandchild. As a result of those deaths, 40,000 children lost a parent. About three-quarters of those who lost parents to COVID are adolescents. https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/why-covid-makes-mother-s-day-extremely-hard-so-many-n1266702
Vaccinated And Huggable Again
Here we are more than a year later, and while the vaccines are providing a sense of relief about gathering together with other vaccinated loved ones, the question remains: Is it safe to hug touch starved and deprived grandma and grandpa?
In many families, the grandparents may be vaccinated, but the kids and grandkids are not. This means that everyone can still spread the virus. With this in mind, many people are wondering, how great the risk is to give and receive hugs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established clear guidelines. They have given the green light to hugging fully vaccinated grandparents whether the kids have been vaccinated or not. Fully vaccinated means two full weeks have passed since the second Pfizer or Moderna shot or the single Johnson & Johnson shot. And that is only if no one has underlying health conditions that would make them more susceptible to contracting the virus. Gathering together indoors without masks with fully vaccinated adults has also been green-lighted. So gather round the table again for family meals that include grandma and grandpa.
If You Have To Get On An Airplane To Get A Hug That’s A No-No
The exceptions are when grandkids live far away, and you have to get on a plane to go see them. The CDC is discouraging air travel that isn’t necessary. So, those who live at a distance from their grandchildren will have to be content with virtual hugs for a while longer. Also, if your grandparent is in an assisted living facility or nursing home, you still may not be able to visit them and give them hugs as many people who work in these facilities are not required to be vaccinated. And, as mentioned earlier, if anyone in your family has underlying health conditions, you want to continue to wear a mask and maintain social distance for their continued protection.
Hugs Have Powerful Healing Power
If it’s been a long time since you’ve given or received a hug, like so many people during this pandemic, it would come as no surprise if you were feeling sad or depressed. We, humans, are sensory creatures, and we must be touched. Hugging is one of the healthiest ways to touch our friends and loved ones. Grandma and grandpa thrive on hugs from their kids and grandkids. When they are deprived of health-enhancing hugs, their mood and their health deteriorate.
Science tells us that hugs instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. The longer you hold someone in a hug, the better. An extended hug lifts serotonin levels, elevating mood. Hugs also strengthen the immune system. Unfortunately, the one thing that would have been healing during COVID-19 is the one thing everyone had to avoid! So, if grandma and grandpa are vaccinated and you live nearby, hug them with all your heart!
On a personal note, I have not seen my parents who live out of state since the beginning of the pandemic. Now that we are all vaccinated I am looking forward to taking a road trip to visit them. I can hardly wait to be enveloped in a hug with them. My dad always told me that “a hug is as close as two hearts can get.”