This is a whole new world. The pandemic that has literally taken over our regular routines has altered everything we do. “Caution” is the word of the times as we try to navigate the new normal. Grandpa and I have taken every precaution we can, but the underlying fear of catching this relatively unknown and potentially deadly virus is frightening to say the least.

So how do we, as seniors, stay as safe as we can and still continue to live comfortably? The answer to that is to stay home as much as you can and listen to the experts. If you go out for essentials, always wear a mask, stay away from large gatherings, avoid touching your face, wash your hands often for 20 seconds or more. If you visit with loved ones, be sure to social distance and wear those masks. Use soap and warm water when you have that choice, and back it up with hand sanitizer if you are out and about and soap is unavailable. Wipe down countertops often, especially after bringing in groceries and packages although there are mixed messages about the risk of you being exposed from them. I decided to be on the side of caution on this one and squirt that disinfectant with gusto on boxes, then wash all fruits and vegetables. I wear a mask while cleaning because I don’t want to survive the virus only to overdose on Lysol fumes! I may be a little overzealous.

Yesterday, I had a few “essential” things to do outside of my home. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous and spoke to my car with a very loving and serious tone. I had not driven for a while, so I asked Caddy Duke to be kind to me as I reacclimated myself in the driver’s seat. After four months in my Corona Castle, my adventures in the great outdoors consisted of a much-needed back adjustment, which unpretzeled me; a trip to the bank; a haircut, during which I was masked from head to toe and sprayed with as much antiseptic as I could handle; and a grocery store visit consisting of a few items after Instacart could not find exactly what I wanted. A tad confusing at first, I followed the explicit directions the store posted outside, telling me which carts were cleaned and which ones still had germs on them. I followed the one-way-only arrows up and down the only aisles that I had to go in, avoiding other brave and masked explorers along the way. One lady was going up the down aisle, so I scooted past her quickly as I perused the sour cream. It reminded me of the old movie “The Stepford Wives” where the women glided though the supermarket in a trance. I couldn’t really speak to anyone except the clerk who rang me up and the bagger, but under my mask, I was smiling at everyone They just didn’t know it.

Asking first, I squirted them both with my handy dandy sanitizing mist, which was well-received. One slight bonus is that there was no charge for bags since they discourage reusing them. Our area is one of the free bag zones. Go figure! My grocery bill has tripled but my bags are free.

The California state law requires that we all must don face protection while out in public. Without getting into a political hoopla, I guess I equate the safety of a mask to wearing my seatbelt. I hated it at first as they were uncomfortable and restrictive, but long before it became a law, I realized this was crucial for my survival. If I can buckle myself into a confining strap, I can wear a piece of cloth to protect my fellow humans and, hopefully, Grandpa and myself. I don’t leave the house that often but when I do, on goes the mask.

The news is more than depressing and for the sake of my mental health, I try to limit my time watching it to getting updates and following the laws that change often. For now, I plan to keep myself informed and follow those rules, as annoying and uncomfortable as they may be so that I try my best to get past this in one healthy piece. Covid.ca.gov is an easy-to-follow website to get updates in our state.

Finding things to do while remaining at home can be a challenge. I’ve often said in the recent past, I will clean out that closet or those drawers when I have time. A self-proclaimed procrastinator, I still have yet to do more than a few things on my to-do list. Boredom is rampant. Frustration and anxiety are at their peak as we all wonder when this will be behind us. On a brighter note, most people have much more time to reach out to others and actually talk to them, enjoying the voices of loved ones or old friends that are in the same boat looking to reconnect. Precious visits even from a distance are what I look forward to, and although there is no hugging, under my mask my wrinkled laugh lines around my eyes let them know I am indeed smiling at them. Stay safe and well.

Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at marla2054@aol.com.

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