The Spanish Flu of 1918 lasted 2 years and had 4 waves. And, in case you didn’t know, it originated in Kansas. It was only named the Spanish Flu because Spain, which was a neutral country during WWI, was free to report about it in gory detail.
After the flu ran its course, the Roaring Twenties began. People went wild and fun and debauchery reigned. In less than a decade, the stock market crashed bringing about the Great Depression and later WWII. Our grandparents went through some mighty stuff and developed strong coping skills.
But, let’s not repeat the past, okay?
Why social distancing in 1918 was hard then just like it is now
The refusal of people to wear masks and their propensity to gather in large crowds was part of the reason why the Spanish Flu lasted for 2 years. During that time, at least 650.000 people died in the U.S. and millions perished all over the world.
Healthcare has advanced greatly since then but we are seeing the same patterns. We can end this pandemic sooner rather than later if we suck up our differences and unite in our efforts. Sadly, too many people are putting their “freedom” over sanity so be prepared for the long haul.
How have YOU been coping with the pandemic overall?
We all know that as members of the Baby Boomer generation we can’t take unnecessary risks. Most of us are holed up in our homes waiting until we feel it’s safe to venture out. As a result, we have missed special occasions like the birth of grandchildren, weddings, holiday celebrations, and even simple social gatherings like having friends over for a BBQ.
But when 8 out of 10 deaths from COVID-19 are adults 65 and older why be reckless?
Why each of us is dealing with the pandemic differently
If you live in a sparsely populated area, your lifestyle probably hasn’t changed all that much. My sister lives in Southern Colorado where there are wide-open spaces everywhere you look. Coping with the pandemic is easier when you can look at spectacular views all day long and play in the outdoors.
But even in rural areas, Baby Boomers have to be careful because COVID-19 has been reported everywhere. If you get sick, you could find yourself alone in a hospital room. Depression is just as real in a beautiful location and needs to be recognized.
I live in Los Angeles, a huge city still spiking with COVID-19 cases. You can get fined in LA if you aren’t wearing a mask on the street or in public buildings. Running errands has become a chore and is risky. As a big-city dweller, it feels like living in the Twilight Zone.
Depression is running rampant for all age groups. Even Michelle Obama reported that she has low-grade depression.
Still, I see Baby Boomer friends of mine posting about staying in hotels, eating at restaurants, and flying in airplanes. I’m not ready to take those risks but you can’t stop someone who is determined to beat the odds.
It’s just another crisis, right?
Unless you’ve led a sheltered life for the past 50+ years, you’ve probably been through scary times. We have an edge on other generations in that we’ve coped with wars, social change, assassinations, lost loved ones, suffered financial stress, and more.
We also have the capacity for patience because we didn’t grow up with instant gratification. When our parents turned on the TV, that’s what we watched. Now, kids have multiple devices running at the same time and get frustrated when they can’t get what they want immediately.
But, we’re no longer twenty either
Most of us feel that we can easily take care of ourselves but we’re still at higher risk for all sorts of things. A false move on a wet kitchen floor might disable you for life, let alone coping with a major pandemic.
Are you feeling uncertain or depressed?
Finances, resulting from the pandemic, is stressful for many people but not as much for Baby Boomers. If you’re over 65 you can fall back on your Social Security or pension and live within your means. You may have also downsized to make your financial situation easier.
What Baby Boomers are more concerned about is how their children or other family members are coping if they lost their job, are struggling, or are working at a job that is putting them at risk. (healthcare workers, waiters, grocery store clerks, etc.)
That type of worry can make you feel helpless and depressed especially if you can’t do anything about it
How is isolation taking a physical toll on Baby Boomers?
Again, this may depend on your living situation. If you are lucky to be isolated in a big house with other family members, have a nice yard and/or neighborhood, you may be more inclined to relax, read books, do crafts, play games, make home repairs, and keep yourself busy.
But not all Baby Boomers have that luxury
As an older person living alone in a tiny space, like an apartment, or a room it could be a different story. Not only are you socially isolated, but you may be sitting all day because there isn’t enough room to move around. That can make you achy or even give you indigestion. Then, you freak out thinking you have the virus.
I’m speaking from experience because that’s what I’ve been doing all these months.
It’s also easy to get depressed if you have no family members or friends to talk to.
Why you need to reach out for help
If you don’t have friends or family nearby, make every effort to stay in touch with them either by phone or online. Join groups with similar interests who you can chat and commiserate with. This is also a great time to learn something new. There are a variety of online classes, discussion groups, and virtual cultural experiences you can find on the Internet.
When you stay engaged it makes coping with the pandemic easier.
Contact your doctor if you aren’t feeling well especially if you are experiencing chronic pain or discomfort because it may be something serious. Many Baby Boomers are afraid to go to their doctor’s office because of the virus. Telehealth appointments, where you talk to a doctor or nurse online, are becoming commonplace. They will access whether or not you need a physical appointment.
Too many older people have died alone because they were afraid to give their doctor a call.
Move your body
Physical problems develop quickly when you are sedentary. Take frequent walks if you can. If the weather or something else makes that impossible, sign up for an online exercise class, repot house plants, clean your closets, stretch, or dance to music. It’s always a good idea to get up and move around every ½ hour.
Don’t binge eat
Many Baby Boomers have reported that they are gaining COVID-19 weight from mindless eating. Boredom is often used as an excuse to stuff your face. Get rid of junk food, soda pop, and sweets and replace it with snacks made from real food.
That being said, an even better way to prevent weight gain is to weigh yourself every day and record it in a notebook. Keeping track of your weight’s ups and downs will motivate you to stay on course. Then, next time a donut beckons, do the twist instead.
This too shall pass
Maybe not soon enough for most of us, but it will. Stay well, plan future trips, dream about the future, keep busy, and relax.
How have you been coping with the pandemic? What helps you maintain a positive attitude? How are you staying busy? Do you need help? Please leave a comment below.