While browsing a clearance rack on a warm summer day, I paused when I came upon a tee shirt emblazoned with the words “Goodbye, 2020.” Goodbye, indeed, I thought.
Inarguably, 2020 was an unforgettable year; it taxed our energy, dominated our attention, and took a toll on our emotions. But here’s what I know: there is always some good on the other side of a crisis – even if that “good” arrives in the form of lessons learned.
For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic provided many lessons, things like elevating the critical importance of self-care, connection, and community while showing us just how resilient and adaptable we really are. I will give you that much, COVID!
Here’s a roundup of COVID-experience lessons that pertain especially to older Americans. See how many ring true for you:
Stay Together, Happy Together
Many couples in long term relationships who “stuck it out” through COVID found a renewed sense of intimacy and connection. This finding reflects the notion that when people experience adversity together, their bond strengthens!
The Return of Grown Children to the Family Homestead
A year ago, 52 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 were living with their parents – the highest percentage since the Great Depression. Researchers predict that a cultural shift is occurring that makes it more acceptable for adult children to “co-reside” with mom and dad.
Keeping Grandma and Grandpa at Home
It isn’t just adult children who are expanding the household – grandma and grandpa may also move in with their adult children to circumvent the nursing home option. As the nuclear family reshapes itself, family members are reconnecting while also leaning on one another for help and support.
These trends bode well for stamping out isolation and loneliness which contribute to serious health issues, including death. At the same time, for many of us, cherished family and friends are far-flung. Here’s a lesson that is especially promising:
Diving into Digital
Americans of all ages are learning to stay connected through smart phones, Facetime, Zoom, and other platforms. The great news here is that many older folks who may have resisted have proven their ability to adapt and learn. And with those adult offspring back at home, the support for doing so may be just a few feet away! Of course, using digital technologies also means ordering groceries online and connecting with healthcare providers via telehealth platforms.
Strengthening family and friendship bonds matter, but reaping the rewards depends largely on the following lesson:
Get Healthy, Stay Healthy
Did you know that a recent study concluded that a healthy 75-year-old was one-third as likely to die from the coronavirus as a 65-year-old with multiple chronic health issues? Now that’s something to think about. We all know how hard it can be to stay away from the food and lifestyle habits that can harm us, but COVID was a longevity wakeup call! Avoiding chronic health conditions is a mindset that many middle aged and older adults are adopting. We all know that eating right, getting enough sleep and staying engaged with others are huge investments in our well-being. So, too, of course, is exercise. I am thrilled to see folks in my neighborhood continuing with their COVID-era daily walk. And, what could be better than older folks setting the example for the now-expanded household? After all, we learn what we live!
As for the tee shirt? Well, against the backdrop of these hope-filled lessons, I opted for the optimism of one that simply said “Good Vibes.”