Suggestions for keeping holidays special at a distance

Suggestions for keeping holidays special at a distance

Many of us will be missing our loved ones this holiday season.

In normal times, with busy schedules and families scattered across the country, holidays may be one of the few times families spend together.

We look forward to these special occasions all year long. These visits help to strengthen our family bonds and keep traditions going.

This holiday season, without COVID-19 under control, many of us are rethinking our get-togethers and already grieving in some ways the loss of this coveted occasion.

I’ve been thinking about my own family and how much I would like to see my mother back east. Because I don’t plan to visit, I’ve been considering things my family could do to share some of our traditions without actually being together.

Job searching in the age of COVID is a whole new ballgame

Job searching in the age of COVID is a whole new ballgame

As of September 2020, almost 13 million people in the United States were unemployed. Of course, a great deal of the job losses can be attributed to COVID.

I’m sure any one of us, including me, can name multiple people we know who are out of work as a result of the pandemic; half our staff here at Senior Concerns had to be furloughed due to the closure of our Adult Day Program.

In a post-COVID world, many industries will look different, and many jobs as well.

While having nothing to do with the pandemic, my husband lost his job several months ago. This was a bit of a shock. He is the main breadwinner in our family, and the loss of his job could cause quite a disruption in our lives if he were to remain unemployed for a long time.

Looking for a job during the pandemic seemed fraught with challenge.

Influential older voters have much to consider

Influential older voters have much to consider

Why do seniors turn out to vote more than any other age group?

Older adults, especially those that are no longer working, are particularly susceptible to changes in policy made by elected officials. A large percentage of their income and access to healthcare resources are tied to government programs.

It also helps that seniors have years of experience voting, are generally more familiar with the mechanics of how to vote and have more time to vote than younger voters.

The first presidential debate, which ran earlier this week focused on the records of President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence, and the integrity of the election.

These are important topics for the country at large, but let’s take a look

Appointment was a real eye-opener

Appointment was a real eye-opener

I was brought up in a household where we were taught to see the best in people. In most cases, giving folks the benefit of the doubt has served us well.

However, based upon a recent experience my mother had, I think being a bit more cautious, especially as we age, is warranted.

Because of her underlying risk of glaucoma, my mother visits the eye doctor every six months for a checkup. She had an appointment a few weeks ago.

After a temperature check, she proceeded to the registration desk to give her name. They told her she had a $25 copay, so my mother paid in cash.

A few moments later, 

Memories help bridge the distance

Memories help bridge the distance

It has been eight months since I’ve seen my mother. I miss her tremendously, but I do not think at this point it is safe to travel 3,000 miles by plane and rental car.

So I continue what I have been doing and make my morning phone call to my mother while I walk the dog.

A few years ago, when my dad was alive, we had plenty to talk about—doctor’s appointments, visiting nurse instructions, questions about his Parkinson’s and much more.

Up until the pandemic, we could talk about my mother’s daily activities, including time spent with her new great-grandbaby, excursions to the flower shop and visits with my sister and her children.

Now there is little to talk about. My mother’s life has become very quiet.

Embracing change, because change is inevitable

Embracing change, because change is inevitable

Due to COVID-19, my husband and I are at home a lot more these days. All that togetherness has given me time to reflect on how my husband and I manage change over time.

Of course, marriage created modifications in my lifestyle right from the start. Following in my mother’s footsteps, I felt responsible for having a home-cooked meal on the table each night. The house always needed to be clean enough for company. At least that is the standard I set for myself.

Early in our marriage I traveled all week for work. That left the weekends to do things. I suggested to my husband that I could cook for the week, or clean, but doing both would leave me no free time for us to enjoy together. He asked me which I preferred to do, and I said cooking.

Pandemic bring hierarchy of needs into focus

Pandemic bring hierarchy of needs into focus

I think some of us are surprised by what has become most important to us as a society over these past four months.

Take, for example, the most basic of our needs, something as simple as air and food.

Pre-pandemic we may have been worried about air quality if it was allergy season, but now being able to breathe virus-free air is of top priority.

Before COVID most of us may have considered grocery shopping a bit of a chore. However, now that it is elevated to an “essential activity” and permits us to leave our homes, we are eager to go to the supermarket.

In the early days of the coronavirus, shopping was like a scavenger hunt. Will today be the day I find yeast, flour or rice? Who knew how much we’d valued those items that we previously took for granted?

Comfort at arms length

Comfort at arms length

You are sitting in your favorite spot in your home—what do you have within arm’s reach?

I recently polled my workmates and received a host of answers, including a computer or iPad, tissues, reading material, Sudoku or crossword puzzles, a pen, a notepad, the television remote, a beverage and, of course, a cellphone.

As human beings, we like our frequently used stuff nearby, where we can’t lose track of it. It makes our lives easier, more enjoyable, more hassle-free and much more comfortable. And because of this, designers have for centuries created new ways to give us a resting place for that stuff.

Take, for example, the nightstand or bedside table, 

The front porch, a rediscovered—and needed—social space

The front porch, a rediscovered—and needed—social space

My husband and I used to chuckle when my mother-in-law lived with us. She would set up shop inside our open garage with her cup of tea, our dog on a leash, her lawn chair, her Table-Mate tray table and a set of magazines.

It did not matter that our backyard held lovely views of the Conejo Valley; the view she wanted to see was people.

While sitting in the garage over the course of the day, she would see the mail carrier, delivery people, neighbors walking their dogs, Realtors dropping off flyers and the people next door walking to their car.

She would shout out a “Hey, mister!” or “Hey, lady!” and launch right into a conversation with anyone who walked by. I am sure the interaction reminded her of her hometown in Ireland, where neighbors were close and conversation was plentiful. And the exchange fed her soul.

Celebrating life in isolation

Celebrating life in isolation

Birthdays during the pandemic have certainly changed.

Take, for example, a first birthday, when a child’s parents reflect on how quickly the year has gone. One-year-olds have achieved so much in their first year. They have developed their own personality and can really enjoy the excitement of a party just for them.

My great-nephew, Wyatt, turned 1 this past week.

His parents, grandparents and great-grandmother held a socially distanced outdoor party for him. Neighbors and friends drove up, stayed in their cars to drop off gifts and send well-wishes, and were treated to a to-go lunch including a hot dog, bag of chips, soda and birthday cake.

Wyatt will never know his birthday celebration was different than it might have been pre-pandemic. But most of us know that this year’s birthday will likely be different from those in the past.

Last week was also my friend Adrienne’s 77th birthday.