The cross. This year, many grandparents will not be able to spend Christmas with their family. How are they likely to experience this situation?
Olivier de Ladoucette : I think it will be a pretty painful moment for most grandparents, even if many are resigned because they know that at their age, Covid-19 is a real danger. They are aware of the situation and understand the need for this estrangement, but they also suffer from it because Christmas is traditionally a family celebration – even a grandparent’s day since they are at the top of the pyramid – and they are used to being invited.
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Others may also feel abandoned, abandoned, finding that their children exaggerate in the respect of precautionary measures. Since the start of this pandemic, some families have broken up or, in any case, no longer communicate as much as before in “face-to-face”. And grandparents are visited less by their children, if not at all by their grandchildren. Which is very difficult to live with.
How to stay in touch when grandparents can’t, or don’t know to use new communication tools?
O. de L .: These digital tools [Zoom, Skype ou Teams… NDLR] are great and have real added value when used well but, indeed, it is not always easy for older people. There is a digital divide around 75-80 years old. Before age 75, grandparents are quite used to using these tools and do so with a velocity that allows them to derive maximum benefit from them. After this age, some also succeed, but for many, it is complicated and these difficulties even cause some suffering.
For them, traditional communication tools, such as photos and writing will be more suitable. A handwritten letter, with drawings of the grandchildren or something else for the older ones, will make them more happy than an email. This may be deleted, while the letter may be kept, put aside on the table or put away in the family archives. For this generation, it is a gift that has a greater value than a message via the Internet. Young people hardly write any more, but they should be encouraged to do so because it is an important gesture for many grandparents, especially at Christmas.
Should associations be called upon when grandparents are very isolated?
O. de L .: Yes, we can propose to the grandparent who finds himself alone to enter the circuit of an association, even if this year, the activities may be complicated with the health crisis which imposes social distancing. This can be useful, provided the grandparent accepts it. Very often, when a person is very isolated, it is also because he has difficulty socializing, for physical, intellectual or psychological reasons.
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Some may even feel “offended” by such a proposal, because they cannot imagine spending this holiday outside the family. Christmas is a very special time of year, which arouses great expectations in relation to our loved ones, possible socializations, the pleasures of gifts and it is therefore a time that also generates a lot of frustrations. Grandparents wait for children to come forward somehow and when they are not invited, even if it is due to the Covid, they can live it badly.