Katie Hawkins-Gaar is a writer and journalism consultant. She writes a weekly newsletter called “My Sweet Dumb Brain,” and serves on the advisory board for the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. The views expressed here are hers. Read more opinion on CNN. (CNN)My mom turned 65 last week, and that milestone prompted some difficult conversations. We discussed the potential seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak—a situation that, just a week ago, seemed a lot less scary than it does now. Because my mom is older, she’s at a higher risk of getting sick from Covid-19, which means she needs to take extra precautions to protect herself from the virus. Like a lot of people my age, I’ve had conversations with my mom about how to stay safe. We talked about avoiding crowds, no longer attending community meetings and skipping volunteer work at the elementary school she visits once a week. As the list went on, my mom became defensive and discouraged. She lives alone, but maintains an active social life through volunteering, attending church, helping neighbors and meeting up with friends. These activities provide purpose and structure to her day. Without them, it’s easy to feel lost and lonely.


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