Happy Belated Mother’s Day To All Wonderful Mothers and Grandmothers
Boomers, We’re Being Subjected to Emotional Whiplash on a Daily Basis
“Courage is not having the strength to go on, it’s going on when you don’t have the strength”
I trust everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day, albeit, it was probably nothing like you’ve ever had in the past. These are truly unique times requiring unique solutions and patience. As mentioned many times in my previous blogs, my mother is in a skilled nursing home. It turns out I had a very sweet day with her on the phone…what else could I do with the lock down and all. I read poems to her and told her repeatedly how much she means to me. My mother did mention how special the staff made it for her Mother’s Day. They placed a rose on her food tray and took extra time with her to make her feel extra special. This is where you would just love to be there and hug them all, like I have done so many times in the past.
Right before Mother’s Day, I was informed the nursing home had its first case of COVID-19. Until then, the facility was really doing a great job of protecting everyone involved, and they continue to do so by having placed the resident in isolation. It’s hard when I read about the high death toll in nursing homes around the country, making up roughly 1/3rd of all deaths nationally. I am putting my good thoughts and prayers to all the residents and staff for a protection bubble to keep them safe. Of course, I will keep this news strictly between my immediate family and a few close friends and hope for the best, and not alarm my mother. What could she do but worry.
I’ve concluded what we’re experiencing during this COVID-19 pandemic is “emotional whiplash.” It’s a whipsaw between hopefulness and hopelessness. Every single day we are subjected to new updates, statistics, and when and if states are going to reopen under whatever phase they deem appropriate. Some of the news is enlightening, unfortunately, most of it is either slanted or inaccurate. Take your pick and get whiplashed.
The real question is how and when we will get back to our routine, or more appropriately, what is the NEW routine? What are the NEW guidelines? Your governor or mayor may choose to reopen with different guideposts, even within the same state. In California, they talk over each other. They open the beaches, then close them, then reopen them because of public pressure.
The media tend to sensationalize all this hubbub because they’re getting paid big bucks to give their slant. They should simply report the news, not opinionate it. My message here is to go easy on the news consumption…there’s too much unknown thereby causing too much confusion and angst. Be kind to yourself. But be aware and get factual information only. No ostrich syndrome here. Be informed by whatever outlet serves you best.
I have a friend who is a total news junkie—through the TV, radio and whatever internet source might be available. She’s been loading me up on everything COVID-19 on my email and text. Actually, I’m in overload, so I had to tell her to limit the number of articles from 20 a day down to a reasonable 1-2. She just wants to share her new found knowledge, but I’ve got far too much going on in my everyday life to end up being consumed with so much noise. Oh, and by the way, it’s OK to tell your friend to dial it back; if they are truly your friend they will understand. In the end, it gives me peace of mind and frees me up to spend time on the important things in my life, like my BoomerGuy, who just so happens to be the most positive and optimistic person I know. Why would I want to hang around anyone else? Geez. Bring on the hugs please.
Right about now we’re all looking for a hug or at least a pat on the back for having made it this far. In my case, a minor accomplishment. A couple of days ago I dropped off my Mother’s Day gift pack to the nursing home. The requirement is they hold it for three days before delivering it, and I wanted it to arrive to my mother’s room in advance of the big day. Along with her gift were supplies needed by both her and my father.
While I was delivering, I was asked by one of the caregivers if I wanted to see my folks. Keep in mind, I have visited them several times every week for the past 2 ½ years, so naturally I wanted to see them. Knowing of course you cannot get into a nursing home, they were willing to bring them both to a large window where we could ’touch’ hands on either side of the glass, and at least see one another. At first my heart skipped a beat—what if they were failing terribly and in complete disrepair. They actually looked pretty darned good. The regular caregivers got them both to the window and I wanted so badly to hug them and the caregivers too. But that would have to wait.
The simplest things in life such as a smile, a hug, a kiss and holding hands are priceless treasures. Embrace the simple things, because they will return sooner than later…
There is no substitute for the human touch. We are meant to have physical contact with more than just our in-home immediate family. Yes, we call, facetime, Skype, text, email, or other form of non-contact communication, but there is something to be said for reaching out and hugging your children, grandchildren, a friend, a neighbor, et al. Let’s not forget the simple handshake. Will that be a cultural dinosaur gone by the wayside in favor of the elbow bump? Remains to be seen.
COVID-19 has made us frozen in time. We’re probably not creating too many memories during these past months, unless you’re writing a book, creating a new musical score, or doing a diary of your daily activities. We’ve had to hit pause on some aspect of our lives. If you’re like me, you’re not wondering what to do next because my plate is full. But I do know there are millions of us seniors who honestly don’t know what to do next, and how to move forward from this horrible status quo. And now we’re hearing about a resurgence of the virus this fall. We want to make plans, go to dinner (an actual sit-down dinner with wine and appetizers) but first the jobs need to start back up. We want to reschedule our appointments, go to birthday parties of 10 or more people, attend a wedding, hit the swimming pool, work out at the gym…we want to be back in control.
As I say that, and lockdowns drag on, it’s important we remember the guidelines of staying at home, physical distancing, and practicing exceptional hygiene. According to Time, some states are experiencing new surges in coronavirus cases after initial declines as a result of people breaking the rules and taking unnecessary chances.
An associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Jacqueline Gollan, has coined a name for this phenomenon and calls it “caution fatigue”. She likens the social distancing to a battery. When restrictions were first announced, people were fully charged with the desire to flatten the curve. Weeks later, which is now, motivation has dipped, and people are feeling drained—the battery is losing power.
“The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It’s truly about what you are made of, not the circumstances”
Gollan has shared her tips for fighting caution fatigue, which interestingly enough parallel the helpful hints I provided in several of my previous blogs. So here are several repeats:
- Rule #1. Take care of your mental and physical self. That means everything I’ve said in the past—get sufficient sleep, limit the alcohol intake, maintain a balanced diet, exercise in whatever capacity you can, and stay socially connected with family and friends.
- Rule #2. Assess your risk and rewards. Get a grasp on what you need to do to reduce your chances of getting sick and thus spreading the disease to those around you. Get in touch with that reality and it will definitely have more of an impact.
- Rule #3. Your routine needs rebuilding. Times are different, and thus your routine needs to be different. It’s called change, and we all have to embrace it. You simply can’t go on like you did three months ago, you need a new regimen that focuses on the immediate future and not the long term, because no one knows. Not even the so-called experts.
- Rule #4. Practice selfless concern. Follow the guidelines, especially when you go out to the grocery or other essential business. Remember that in keeping yourself safe, you are also helping others and the community at large. There is something powerful about hope, compassion and caring for others, along with yourself.
I’m truly lucky in that I have my BoomerGuy, who I can touch and reach out to anytime, and my parents who I can talk to daily from their nursing home. Our nursing home is doing quite well compared to so many others around the country. I have many good and great friends. I’ve actually gotten a few projects done around the house with a few more to follow. Hey that’s something to look forward to.
I’m here for you. My messages are intended to be informative and inspirational. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and let’s move forward together.
Just breathe and remember that moving forward means taking one step at a time.
Editorial contribution by Linda Seidler at lindaseidler.com, and
Lynn Allison, newsmax.com