It was only a few months ago, although barely remembered now, that we were thinking about our goals or resolutions for the New Year, 2020. I was one of those people carefully choosing a plan for meeting my goals. Then the bus we did not see coming, named COVID 19, arrived with a force we have never experienced. Of all the distractions to sabotage reaching well-intentioned and crafted goals, a worldwide pandemic was not one any of us would have considered.
I saw a post on Instagram that poked fun at the notion of New Year’s resolutions. It went something like this; remember when you rang in 2020 declaring it was going to be your year for great things to come and now you are looking at coffee filters thinking of how they might be a substitute for toilet paper. It was a little more colorful than that but you get the gist.
When I reflect back to creating my list of goals that I wanted to reach, the obstacles were centered on time. “If only I had more time to get a book a week read…..or, well when I am retired, I will have time to get back to that hobby.” Now with most people in isolation, time has been handed to us. After our hours of work commitments and responsibilities, (should we be so fortunate to still have that choice), we may find ourselves asking, “Now what?”
I have at least ten books willing to be read. I am on page seven of one of those books and have been on page seven for over four weeks. By my standards, I should have at least five of those books completed and would have reached that goal pre Covid -19.
I am working in complete opposition to every goal I set for myself back four months. I am not proud of that fact. However, I am okay with not pursuing new endeavors. I am not succumbing to the pressures of social media posts to learn a new language, try a new meditation app, take an online yoga class, or learn a new photography app.
I am giving myself the time to wrap my head around this new reality, to process the fact that life will not resume as if this never happened. It feels like the best way to adapt to the present conditions. A frenzy of activity does not provide the time my brain needs to reset. To work through the anxiety and attain some notion of security, even if fleeting, may take some of us longer. Maybe moving slowly through this new norm will be helpful.
Whatever works for us individually is the best plan without feeling guilt or the need to explain your process. A new goal might be finding serenity and wellness and letting everything else revolve around that.
Gratitude is one of the saving graces in this time of calamity. Many of us have the luxury of staying safe in our homes. Many of us have safety nets of jobs, which are paying bills. Many of us are able to purchase groceries and maybe via online because we have our many devices. Many of us can still connect with family, friends, and coworkers because we have internet in our homes.
There are so many who are going to work every day and putting their lives at risk. Our healthcare workers do not have the luxury of time because they are working round the clock and becoming exhausted and sick. Our first responders, our grocery store workers, our postal workers, our politicians, our animal caretakers, our volunteers bringing meals to our elders, and the list is endless; Those who do not have the time to be numb to this situation. When they are called into action, they are there to do their jobs.
Gratitude is not a strong enough word. Thinking of all those people who are going to work for us means the one thing I can do is stay home so they can do those jobs. We don’t have to stay home, we GET to stay home. With gratitude in the forefront of our minds, there will be strength to power forward. Our country has always been strong, hopeful, and resilient.
As many changes, as many sacrifices we have to make, it pales in comparison to what our essential workers are doing. Thank you.
When we think of this standstill and our desire to be social and connect with family and friends, this time may offer a chance to reflect on some of the elders in our communities. Many of our elders face daily social isolation and not due only to Covid 19.
This forced social distancing is keeping our elders safe while at the same time keeping them more isolated and lonely. The resources that may have been available to counteract this isolation, like our churches, Councils on Aging (COAs), volunteer opportunities, friends, family, are not necessarily available in the same way now. However, there are cities and towns finding ways to provide ongoing services in conjunction with the COAs through the help of volunteers. We recommend checking your city or town’s website to learn more or calling your local COA.
Our Care Managers and nurses at Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore are working diligently to connect with our consumers to monitor their well-being. Our nutrition team and our meals on wheels drivers are ensuring meals are delivered to our elders. The meals on wheels driver is the person who makes those well-being checks and may be the only person the elder sees on any given day.
If these many weeks of isolation awaken us to the reality of being stuck inside a home with no outside connection, maybe it will illustrate the reality of aging alone. Maybe on the other side of this pandemic we will find many projects, which will benefit our elders. If in the meantime you can reach out to an elder you know and make sure they do not feel alone and that they are safe, you benefit our communities. Maybe you will find time on your hands after this isolation ends and will be able to offer your services to our agency as a volunteer.
Many wonderful good news stories abound. Here is a terrific resource for getting at those stories.
If you did not catch this stellar performance by Andrea Bocelli singing Amazing Grace, you may want to click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0l5dGiaXCo
Or for a performance of The Prayer from the One World: Together at Home concert, www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYJCYr1I-Sk
We may have to shift our resolutions from where we began 2020. However, we will find goals again and once on the other side of this calamity, successfully start making plans to reach those goals.
Our Information and Referral Services department is available to assist our consumers, all professionals, and our community partner agencies during this Coronavirus crisis. Our dedicated staff is working remotely but nothing changes in the ways they can help.
To reach our Information and Referral Services Department in Lawrence please call 978-683-7747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne’s background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. “I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you’ll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services’ audience.”