Life in the Time of COVID-19

 

If it wasn’t hard enough to navigate through life as an older adult in “ordinary time”, the Coronavirus has given us even more to worry about on a global scale.  Am I alone or does anyone else out there feel like the art of mixed messaging has reached an all time high?

 

It makes me wonder?  Where do our decision-makers think older adults go when determining their reopening plans?  

 

On the one hand, if you are over the age of 65, you should stay home.  Anyone over this benchmark age is considered “at risk”.  More specifically , you should know that according to the CDC, older adults with underlying health issues to include but not limited to chronic lung disease, heart disease, immuno-compromised, obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or liver disease might be at higher risk for severe illness if the virus is contracted.

 

In a nutshell, if you are over the age of 65 you should:If it wasn’t hard enough to navigate through life as an older adult in “ordinary time”, the Coronavirus has given us even more to worry about on a global scale.  Am I alone or does anyone else out there feel like the art of mixed messaging has reached an all time high?

It makes me wonder?  Where do our decision-makers think older adults go when determining their reopening plans?  

 

On the one hand, if you are over the age of 65, you should stay home.  Anyone over this benchmark age is considered “at risk”.  More specifically , you should know that according to the CDC, older adults with underlying health issues to include but not limited to chronic lung disease, heart disease, immuno-compromised, obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or liver disease might be at higher risk for severe illness if the virus is contracted.

 

In a nutshell, if you are over the age of 65 you should: Stay at home if you can, Wash your hands often, Avoid close contact, Clean and disinfect surfaces, Cover your mouth and nose, and Cover coughs and sneezes

 

Then there is the other hand.  

 

The other hand is what we see on a day to day basis.  Older adults can be seen all over the community.  With reopening plans being approved left and right for restaurants, libraries, parks, beaches, churches, hair stylists and even gym’s, what’s a senior to do?  

 

No really, what is a senior to do?  

 

This question worries me as a Senior Center Director as I am at a loss to answer it.  Our brick and mortar program is currently closed until possibly Phase III in Rhode Island.  We have adjusted by transitioning to a Virtual Senior Center and Senior Center By Mail model because we shouldn’t be seeing seniors out in the community.  Right? 

 

This confusion is met with disdain when the subject comes up in the pharmacy parking lot.  Here is a prime example.  I am working a polling station today.  I fully expected to see younger folks exercising their right to vote in person as the push for mail in ballots was intended to keep voters from getting into each other’s space.  What happened in reality? Well, as expected the live voter turn out was significantly less than what we would have ordinarily seen as most voters chose the option to mail in their ballots.  But as you may have guessed of those live voters, most were seniors.  What?

 

Can we blame them?  I certainly can’t.  Humans are by their very nature social beings.  We need contact with each other to maintain good health.  The mission of every senior center in the country is to combat senior isolation.  Talk about trying times.  How do we turn tail on all that we know?  There is no question here.  You just do it.  You discover creative alternatives to keep folks connected.   But how do we as professionals advise the seniors we serve as to how to live during the time of COVID-19?

 

Here’s what I think.  To live in the time of COVID-19 empower yourself to do what is right for you.  There is no one size fits all answer.

 

  1.  Be Informed.  I mean be really informed.  We do better when we know better.  Stay tuned to the Governor’s daily messages as news surrounding COVID-19 can change that quickly.  Stay tuned to legitimate local news sources.  Be wary of social media postings.  

  2. Stop and think before you venture out by considering the level safety you may encounter.  Will you be surrounded by people who may or may not be masked?  Will you feel comfortable under whatever conditions you may face?  If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right.  Listen to your inner voice.

  3. Take good care of yourself.  I know I sound like a broken record but be sure to stay hydrated, eat healthy foods, walk where and when you can and get plenty of rest.  

  4. Keep your “in person” circle small.  In an effort to maintain some semblance of normalcy, reach out to family or friends but keep your circle small so that you interact with the same small group of folks at any given time.

  5. Have a care plan.  This piece of advice holds true at any time regardless of the current situation.  Be sure to have a plan in place for your care in the event you should fall ill.  Better to have a plan and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

  6. Embrace technology.  If you are using technology, keep at it and practice, practice, practice.  More and more information and useful tools for staying connected come from the use of technology.  If this was something you always wanted to do in the past – there is no better time than now to jump in.  Our goal is to help every Boomer be a Zoomer before this all over.

  7. While I am on the subject, expect this protective way of life to last a while.  A long while.  Masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing will be a part of our collective way of being for the foreseeable future.  It’s the right thing to do for all of us.

  8. Phone a friend. Be the friend who accepts the calls and more importantly be the friend who makes the calls.  Write a postcard, send a letter or perform a drive by greeting run to say hello from the car to someone’s front porch.

  9. Create a routine.  Although it may not be the routine you are accustomed to, routines are important to remind us of what day of the week it is and to give us all something to look forward to.  If you used to take a live yoga class at 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, continue to do so but do it virtually.  

  10. And lastly, stay connected to your senior center.  The brick and mortar building may be closed but Senior Centers like the Edward King House is still working like gangbusters to keep our senior community engaged, fed and prepared for whatever comes next.  We are always ready to serve – no matter what the conditions.

 

We can do this with our two hands.  😉

 

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