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Curing Our Pandemic-Related, Elderly Anxieties

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Pandemic-related anxieties are not specific to a particular age. This Covid-19 trouble maker has penetrated everyone’s psyche, from toddlers to centenarians. But since I am a mere 13 years away from being a centenarian, I will focus on my age group.

It needs not be told, that being a widow of only eleven months, I have difficult moments (sometimes hours) of loneliness and feelings of depression. I live alone, go to bed alone, wake up alone, eat alone. Add to that the burdens of a pandemic: social distancing, ordering from the market and pharmacy, lack of family gatherings, the absence of coffee klatches with friends, non-existent birthday parties, etc., and the hardships become compounding. I miss the feeling of easy, comfortable conversation with my husband of sixty-two plus years and having that other person in the house. I want to revisit my days as a nurse and help my nursing comrades make a difference in this pandemic, but I’m too old. I want to swim early mornings at the Y, but it’s closed. I want to use my gift card at the cinema or go to the library, but…………does any of this bring forth the aroma of “Anxiety”??

So, I’m doing the next best things so that when the “All Clear” signal is sounded, I’ll be able to step into a healthier place, mentally and physically. I do the L.A. Times Sunday crossword puzzle every week. Granted, I used to finish it in one day, but now I pin it to a clipboard and work on it all week. Sometimes I think that it’s Saturday, but it’s Tuesday. I blame that on my old and tired hippocampus, as well as an empty schedule, but it’s really just a “senior moment”. Even youngsters are mixing up their empty, unscheduled days of the week and all we can do is laugh about it. I purchased a battery-powered lawnmower, which is very light and easy to push, and it empowers me. That’s bad news for the grandson who is used to mowing my lawn, but he has a lot more years than I to strengthen his muscles. I still play golf with friends my age. We only play nine and with masks. Those of us who can walk the course still do. We laugh at our mishaps and talk about the old days when we played eighteen and won our matches, the laughs sending healthy endorphins through our aged systems. One of my sons and I work one day a week on our ancestry. It’s so exciting to find a relative in Ireland, Scotland, and/or Germany and feel a kinship though we will never meet. The attic is full of photos that need to be classified and placed in albums, so that they will be more than blank faces when I am gone. I have books that need to be sorted and boxed. I need to plant tulips for my daughter before it’s too late in the season. Television holds little interest for me, except for an interesting Netflix series every now and then, so I pick up that crossword and pen while half-watching. Many years ago, I read that doing crosswords in pen was the epitome of egotism, and I think of it every time. Perhaps egotism is the answer to the cure. If you can convince yourself that you are better and stronger at what you do than anyone else your age, it gives you the impetus and drive to succeed through these dark times.

Pretend that you have the power to cure that arthritic knee and take a walk. Talk to your grandchildren about your early life and show them how smart you were to be able to navigate a full life with only radios and record players and two-wheeled bikes with fat tires. Help someone in crisis to clear their emotional hurdles by using what you have learned through your own vast experiences. Telephone, email, or text friends who are lonely or scared and let them know you are there for them. We resilient, learned, occasionally forgetful, but forceful healers of advanced age have so much to give to ourselves and those who need us. We are “The Cure”.  Let our egotism soar!

– Hopeful Centenarian

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