Journal of the Plague Year: When recommendations conflict

Posted Monday, March 16, 2020 in News

Journal of the Plague Year: When recommendations conflict

by Gina Hamilton

March 16, 2020

It's a few days into the strong request for social isolation; my husband has been off with a cough out of an abundance of caution -- I'd had the cough a few days earlier but both of us are on the road to recovery. It was just a cold after all, but for my husband,  who works in food service, a nasty cough in the journal of the plague year is particularly bad.

Aside from taking the dogs for walkies and the occasional trip to the store to see if they have bread flour yet again, we've all been home. After the first great rush of Getting Prepared, buying supplies, filling the gas tanks, making sure we have enough dog and cat food and chicken feed, we're now just settling in for the long haul. For me, working on the taxes and my books and trying to get the Spring Tingle done, as well as looking after all the life forms in our busy lives, has been distracting from the real issue of what social isolation means.

But I remember all too well when milady was in her final illness, three years ago almost to the date. Among the things everyone worried about was whether or not she was getting enough social interaction. Of course, I was there, several times a day, as was a neighbor, and soon enough, hospice care was coming in. Suffering from brain cancer, she had difficulty remembering whether she was lonely in the in-between times, or if she was sick of everyone hovering. She was sorry not to be able to go to the Bath Senior Center to play bocce, or just to have a cup of coffee and watch the others play, I know.

But she was in her last few days. If she'd been confined to home for a reason like this, she'd have gone nuts, and probably rightly so.

I don't know if the Senior Center here in Bath is closed for the duration of the pandemic; it should be, but I haven't heard anything, and their Facebook page said only that they were going to be closed today. Sadly, social isolation among seniors is always an issue, but now, it can be devastating.

One of the things we ought to be doing, since we can't meet with our elderly friends face to face, is get organized to help them stay in touch virtually. When you meet, show them how to use FaceTime on their phone to keep in touch with grandkids and other loved ones. Teach them how to Skype. Make sure, at the very least, you call at least once a week and check in. Even if they are perfectly healthy physically, social isolation in the elderly takes a devastating toll.


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