PANDEMIC 101 for Seniors

Mar 19th, 2020 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Understanding a Crisis

Our world is in a brand new place; a place we did not choose but nevertheless, one that we must figure out how to grapple with.

It is March, 2020, and world leaders have declared a Pandemic we call COVID-19, the corona virus that actually began in late 2019. It is a crisis for all of us, but especially for us seniors because we have been identified as among the most vulnerable group of people who can/could/might contract COVID-19. Seniors, people with lung disease, heart disease and diabetics are the highest risk groups.

A crisis is unexpected, frightening and potentially catastrophic for seniors. Our age creates a sense of vulnerability we did not experience in younger years. With that vulnerability comes heightened fear of the unknown future and its effects on our lives. Our ability to cope is diminished and even impaired.

Any crisis tends to diminish our resilience and ability to manage otherwise daily routines. Because our thought processes may be affected, problem solving and coping with ongoing daily routines can take a hit. That is just the nature of crises.

It is easy to focus on all the negatives that surround our lives these days. And that focus will feed the unpleasant parts of this crisis.

Is There Anything Positive Here?

However, a crisis such as COVID-19 can also lead to some positive results, if we determine we are going to see the brighter side of this rather dark picture. Figuring out how to manage our lives in the midst of all the turmoil can be a turning point and a crossroads that can produce very positive and highly desired results.

For example, we are all cautioned (ordered in some cases) to stay inside, avoid crowds and wait it out. We have a choice. We can sit around wringing our hands and worrying, or we can decide to use these ‘sequestered’ days posistively. What have you been putting off for a rainy day? What good friend(s) and family member(s) have you not talked with in a long time? What book have you been wanting to read, and have been putting off? What projects have been sitting around the house for days or weeks or months, projects you now have time to tackle? Where is that jigsaw puzzle your grandchildren gave you for your birthday?

Some of us seniors prefer to sit around and worry. And that is our choice, albeit a rather poor one in my judgement. It’s not healthy and does absolutely nothing for our coping skills. As a retired educator and therapist, I do not recommend that choice.

Take Action!

There is a lot of research that suggests sitting around, worrying and becoming lethargic results in depression and decreased ability to cope. Simply setting daily goals, being active, moving around, making positive choices about how to manage a worrisome time leads to improved coping skills and a sense of accomplishment with the task at hand. And let’s face it, success begets more success.

So dear friends, every morning when you get up, set a goal or two; make a choice to be proactive with your time; decide to do something positive with your time, each and every day. Stay physically active. Do mind-challenging activities. Decide what feel productive to you, and then do it! None of this makes the crisis go away. But it does put us on the positive side of coping with COVID-19.

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