Explaining the war to your vulnerable loved ones

Due to the far-reaching impact of COVID-19, many of us have felt the impact of ongoing stress over the past two years. This applies especially to our vulnerable elderly loved ones, and children, who may have been on high alert throughout this difficult time.

The news of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine have therefore held even more significance, and the anxiety and stress felt may have begun to increase further.

We believe it’s important to consider how best to manage this by promoting wellbeing and quality of life during such an uncertain period. Communication is key, and we believe it’s important to keep talking to loved ones and open channels for contact, in order to provide helpful reassurance, assisting with managing sometimes overwhelming anxiety.

Find some helpful tips below for addressing any concerns your vulnerable loved ones may have:

‘Less is more:’ try to keep explanations simple. By over-explaining the overall situation, it can be difficult for those listening to process a complex situation. We advise focusing on your loved one’s specific life and the lives of their family. This is more relatable, and more of immediate concern, as opposed to the lives of others fighting miles away. Reassure them that it’s unlikely the war will reach their home, and have a direct impact on their lives.

Monitor your own emotions. Often, young children or vulnerable adults will react to the stress of their carers. Try to avoid discussing sensitive topics if you feel your own emotions are high, and be sure to take care of yourself also. It’s important to validate the feelings of anyone showing stress and anxiety, but to manage and contain this, by providing brief but honest answers, and a reassuring presence.

Keep TV news time-restricted. Often, repeated news reports featuring detailed and often horrifying details on TV, can have the effect of traumatisation. Try to keep these images to a minimum, which can become magnified in their minds. With 24/7 news channels available, it is important to monitor how often time is spent watching or listening to these reports. Set regular times for consistency, and try to avoid evenings before going to sleep, which may contribute to anxiety and disturbed sleep.

Try to keep things calm. Calming activities can have an overall impact on our wellbeing, and it’s important to introduce these into your daily routine, whilst faced with challenging situations. Hobbies such as yoga, reading, gentle walking, and baking might offer some comfort and relaxation. If you can introduce and maintain peace into the daily routine, this will help to strengthen your loved one’s ability to deal with more anxiety-provoking issues they may hear about.