As a member of the over 75 senior set, I decided to check in with my Piedmont peers during this most strange and alarming time, especially now that regular face-to-face contact has been nixed. I sent a brief survey around to some of my pals asking for their thoughts and reactions to the stay-at-home orders. Of the 27 solicited, 12 answered (9 women and 3 men), and here’s a summary of what they had to say about how their lives have changed since:
Rationing simpler pleasures, cancelling travel plans
The biggest changes involved not going out for any activities and leading a much simpler and quiet life. Having more time at home made it harder to get as much done as compared to before the shelter in place. There’s more reading, but that’s accompanied by a fear of running out of books, so reading time is being rationed. A few were spending their time trying to get refunds for previously scheduled trips.
New routines, more focus on fundamentals of everyday life
Shelter in place has created some new priorities for my friends. Because staying in sweats all day, every day is just too tempting, a few wrote that a shower and fresh change of clothes has become a big boost to the day. Washing hands many times each day is a priority, as is taking walks around town. Eating regular and healthy meals is also important. Staying in touch with children, grandchildren, and friends each day is at the top of everyone’s list.
Cleaning out closets, bureaus and files are also favored activities. Of course, that has caused the additional problem of storage because thrift shops are all closed. Respondents’ dining rooms are now catchalls. Now that having guests over is out, no one will see this new found use for said dining rooms. Yes, the shelter in place has some silver linings.
One respondent was happy to make sure that a cocktail was consumed every day!
Learning curves, new projects
Learning new technology in order to communicate with the outside world has taken up the time of many. Firsts include using FaceTime to communicate with family, friends and loved ones.
Subscribing to Netflix, ordering takeout and groceries online to be delivered to one’s door and figuring out how to use Zoom are also expeditions into new territory. A novel Zoom experience was an online cocktail party. Another respondent was very excited to be able to do an online exercise class in jammies.
A special project of one respondent: making a bird and insect-inviting native plant garden.
Things we miss
So much – the pleasure and adventure of a scheduled trip, time with friends for bridge games, golf, going out to lunch or dinner. Mostly, however, my respondents miss hugging children and grandchildren – and just seeing them.
In other words, all are hurting for social interaction which was something taken for granted until it was ruled out.
Our worries, hopes and feelings run the gamut
One friend is scared because of the unknowns of the virus and the economy. Another feels grateful to be able to sit back and enjoy each day. Several hoped that people are praying for our country and its leadership. Some expressed surprise that they’ve discovered they are procrastinators — putting off tasks that they would’ve tackled quickly pre-coronavirus days.
A month ago, you might have expected to hear the 75+ set grumble about “kids and their devices these days!” But now many are happy and relieved to be living in the era of WIFI and hi-tech – and all those devices – to keep in touch with loved ones.
Irritation was expressed by some. Irritation at feeling restricted and labeled. Irritation at young folks who are not practicing social distancing whether that be in Piedmont, Ft. Lauderdale or elsewhere. When we are working hard to adhere to rules that we don’t love either. Irritation that it doesn’t register with the social distance scofflaws that our age group is especially vulnerable to the risks caused by this pandemic.
The bottom line for one friend – which says it all for all of us at one time or another: “I am going bat sh*t crazy”!
Sally Senior is a longtime Piedmont resident and also answers to the name of Fran Wolfe