Staying busy in solitary time

Seniors may be facing longer lockdowns—other seniors suggest what to do with your day

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 5/20/20

Reporting this, I learned something important. Seniors want to share their experiences and their knowledge, but they’re private. Sometimes it’s because they grew up in an era when you …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Staying busy in solitary time

Seniors may be facing longer lockdowns—other seniors suggest what to do with your day

Posted

Reporting this, I learned something important. Seniors want to share their experiences and their knowledge, but they’re private. Sometimes it’s because they grew up in an era when you didn’t drop your name at every possible chance. Some people felt unsafe. Editor Veronica Daub and I talked it over and decided to run it with no names attached. Out of respect, and so our seniors can relax and just tell you what they’re thinking and doing.

The thought of spending more time in lockdown is daunting, yet it’s a likely reality for our seniors (and the immunocompromised) who may have to self-isolate over and over if COVID-19 returns in waves.

But, say area seniors, we have choices. There are things to do. As long as food is on the table, health is stable and the bills are paid, the possibilities are endless.

We’ve crowdsourced a list of ways to cope, ways you can reach out and tips you can make a part of your lives.

First, the necessities

Check our senior resource list on page 12 if you need groceries or medications. And remember, the local Agency on Aging or Office for the Aging stands ready to help.

Our anonymous seniors have friends and family doing their shopping. This keeps a vulnerable elder out of the grocery store and away from people. “My family runs errands,” said one.

“We have food and water. We have two sons who’ll go [to the store] once a week. If you don’t have relatives, a good friend could go for you.”

The Neversink General Store is great, says one senior. Call ahead to give them your order and thus minimize time in the store.

It’s all about attitude

“I’m basically an optimist.”

This was the overriding theme: Being naturally positive really makes lockdown easy. And sometimes, it’s the simple things that make a difference. “I’m getting great pleasure out of not having to be anywhere or do anything. I had popcorn for lunch; it’s just a wonderful feeling,” said one local senior.

“It helps to have a cheery disposition... Maybe the one who isn’t so cheery just needs a good hug. And a cookie helps.”

No excuse for being bored

Many seniors mentioned the importance of faith. Be it church, synagogue, or another place of worship, attending via Zoom or Facebook Live has helped.

“Keeping the brain active is important. Depending on a person’s interests, that could be reading, gardening, art work, photography, any number of things,” said another.

“The internet is better than having a library at your fingertips,” she continued. “My neighbor asked me for the name of a potted plant I have. Not being a gardener, I had no idea, but I found it for her pretty quickly on the internet.”

Maybe it’s time to build something. “My sister is interested in having chickens to raise, but knew she was not up to building a coop herself. While we were chatting on the phone, I did a quick search and found a number of places where kits can be purchased. She still needs someone to put it together, but it’s less daunting than building from scratch.”

One Pennsylvania senior shared how she is keeping busy: “I watch NCIS, do sudoku puzzles, read a lot... I love biographies and just finished a book about Genghis Khan. Also ‘Learning to Breathe’ by Alison Wright.” She loves books about “people overcoming adversity. Inspiring me to think my life could be better.

“There’s a big wide world out there,” she continued, “don’t tell me, ‘I’m bored!’ You have to use your imagination.” You can “watch movies, movies are a great art form.” She likes “Lion in Winter” and Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren in “Red” and “Red 2.” Or you can “crochet potholders, redecorate a room with what you already have. Upcycle clothes. We decided to groom the dog.”

“My time has been spent puttering around the house,” said another. “Reading, watching television, starting some flowers from seed.  About once a week I go down to our thrift store to work alone so we can be ready to open when we get the OK.”

“For the ones who are capable, they can make those masks,” a senior pointed out. “Knit mittens or hats. Write down those memories.”

Stay active

There are plenty of exercises available, even for older people. Check with your doctor, of course, and then go to the streamed exercise program at the Wayne County Agency on Aging, or spend a little internet time searching for something that will work for you.

Stay in touch

Our seniors had a number of suggestions:

“I call two people every day, just a quick chat, especially single people.”

“If someone doesn’t have internet, write a note.”

“Time is also spent on... the phone, checking on friends to see how they are doing.”

“Get on the phone and talk to people.”

“Keeping up with friends by phone works for me. It’s really no different than going to lunch together. We chat about multiple topics. One of my very old friends found me by using Facebook. We had worked together during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Yes, way last century. We talk by phone now with lots to catch up on, kids and grandkids and work. Yes, she is still working part time and from home for the pandemic. Phone chats with old friends can get you out, mentally at least. “

And…

“It’s funny,” one lady said. “I would think that this would be a great time to catch up on all those household tasks that people put off, like cleaning out the cupboards, or the garage. I suggested that very thing to a friend. Her response was, ‘Oh god, no.’”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment