This coronacoaster we find ourselves riding now is not only crazy, it’s downright frightening as well as extremely confusing.
Like so many others, I try to balance watching the updates on the news to keep informed with also taking a much-needed break, clearing my head and the raw nerves. Deluged with information that changes daily, it’s no wonder we are unclear what is up and what is down after almost five months. The overwhelming amount of numbers, facts, opinions and graphs can turn one’s head faster than Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.” Look out for the green spew!
There seems to be a really fine line between too much and not enough when it comes to keeping up with the important information that we need to stay safe. Some are glued to their televisions every waking moment while others prefer the head in the sand method, hoping someone will knock on their door and sing “Come out come out wherever you are” to us in this strange new Munchkin Land. Although the references to the two movies are tongue in cheek, there is no humor to this increasingly horrible situation.
Receiving updated information is crucial during any disaster affecting our daily lives, but a balance is also needed to maintain good mental health. Many seniors are at home by themselves. Their outside contact is limited, causing anxiety and even depression. I’ve spoken to several who are in this situation and the smallest lifeline to the outside world is precious to them. It is to all of us.
Life’s challenges coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic adds to the stress and anxiety that we all feel from time to time. Losing a loved one such as a spouse, a mother or father, other family members or a dear friend adds an enormous amount of grief and sadness to an already tense world right now. Nobody should have to deal with this alone. Being sheltered in place for our health and safety, especially at-risk seniors does not have to mean you have to be totally on your own. Every morning, I make a few phone calls to friends and loved ones. For them it’s my “hello, I love you and am checking on you” call, but for me it is so much more. Being here in Summerset, we have several folks who live alone. As upbeat and smiling as they always are when I see them, I know some of the days are long and lonely at times. Check on your neighbors. Pool grocery shopping. Share what you have an abundance of and make sure nobody is hungry, lonely or frightened. We are all one big family now, and assuming that someone is ok is not ok.
Coping with this new world takes strength and stamina. Mine is starting to run on fumes, but I have faith in medical experts to find a cure, a vaccine or both in the very near future. Maybe not tomorrow but soon, and we need to keep doing as much of our daily routines as possible. Shower, get dressed. Put the lipstick on, girl! Choose one project at a time that you have put off for months or even years and dive in. Depression can be fended off with some diversion. A friend of mine, Carla, who lost her mom recently takes a nice long walk or hike every weekend by herself. Although some of us cannot do that due to mobility issues, she finds the open air away from others serene and calming. With no real destination in mind, she gets in her car with a beautifully framed picture of her mama next to her and off she goes. Her grief is temporarily put on hold, and her tears are dried by the breezes. Any form of normalcy helps quite a bit. I love looking at her pictures on Facebook, sharing her joy and release of stress in another mother, Mother Nature.
Here are two websites that offer assistance and information for seniors during COVID-19: https://www.ncoa.org and https://aging.ca.gov/covid19.
If we are lucky, we continue to grow older. Certainly not younger like Benjamin Button, who was born an elderly man and ended up a baby as the story goes on. There’s another one of those movie references. Grandpa calls me Pollyanna at times, and no, I didn’t mean to name yet another movie, but I do believe that there are so many things to still be grateful for. We just need to be patient and loving to one another. Spending time on the phone, actually talking and using our voices, not texting, makes a world of difference to those who live on their own.
So crank up some of your favorite music, sing along and dance in your kitchen. Stay safe and well.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.