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Photograph: Shutterstock

How do I get my elderly parents to stick to the lockdown rules?

An expert reveals how to control unruly over-60s

Written by
Kate Lloyd

Welcome to our series where, each week, we’ll get experts to find solutions to your lockdown problems. Send yours to and we’ll try to get you an answer. In this instalment: misbehaving pensioners. 

James from Richmond says:

My elderly parents arent taking lockdown seriously. Theyre still meeting up with their friends and wont self isolate. How do I convince them to be more serious about it without ruining our relationship?’

Mind coach Anna Williamson says: 

​‘Its a tricky one with parents and the older generation. Many of us are finding we are the ones now doing the parenting and laying down the law. The best way to approach the topic is to pre-warn them you would like to have a chat with them. Keep it informal and friendly so that they don’t worry about what is to come and have any defences up in anticipation. Doing it via video chat is preferable. It means you can have actual face-to-face contact, and any silences and facial expressions can be monitored to ensure the chat stays positive.

​‘Your parents are likely not too worried about themselves by the sounds of it, they are part of a hardy generation used to ​carrying on, but try to help them understand the severity of not mixing with their mates at the moment by putting yourself at the heart of it... If they won't do it for themselves, perhaps they will for you, or for their grandchildren. Remind them that you want plenty more fun times with them and they are risking that by not taking the lockdown seriously enough.

​‘Keep things calm at all times and lead the conversation in tone, pace and language. If you keep calm they are more likely to stay calm themselves. Ask questions about their decision to not follow guidelines. Stay clear of “why” questions. They automatically put people on the defence and can feel like you are attacking them in some way. Instead use a “what” question i.e. what do you feel about this, to allow them to communicate with you effectively and reflect on the situation.

​‘If they're still not listening? It isn’t about giving up, it is about saying your piece and stating your reasons for your concern and then calmly and kindly leaving it with them to reflect and have a think about. Keep communicating with them to help you feel in the know about where they are and what they are doing. Encourage them to practice safety measures such as using antibacterial hand wash and using a face mask, and keeping a two-metre distance from anybody.’

Read more in this series:

Am I in a power struggle with my cat?

Why am I having such vivid dreams in lockdown?

Why do I have the attention span of a goldfish?

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