This article was written by Deanna Averill
What a year 2020 has been. It was to have been a year of focus for the future. It started with such promise. But then, IT happened — COVID-19. IT came hard and turned our world upside down. By March, a “new normal” was developing. Schools went online, churches and restaurants closed. A square of toilet paper was not to be found in the stores.
At first we thought it was not going to last very long, maybe just a couple of weeks before life could resume. But that was not the case. It is now moving into September and the world is a different place. Schools will reopen soon, but in a hybrid style that most have not seen before. Churches are either virtual or having service in the parking lots. Restaurants are limiting the number of tables being served. Oh yeah, don’t forget your mask when you want to go into a building.
The main thing the virus has encouraged us all to do is to take stock in our lives as to what is really important. How can we socialize and maintain friendships during a time of isolation without exposing ourselves to the virus? Many of us have had Zoom calls with friends, coworkers and family. We are now coming up with creative ways to meet with our friends while social distancing and following guidance from the professionals.
There are some who are still not comfortable with going out, even with social distancing and wearing a mask, which has made them become isolated and withdrawn. The greatest population this affects is the older adult. There are many reasons for someone to be facing isolation. They could be in a high risk group and are self-isolating for health reasons. Or maybe they don’t have the equipment or knowledge on how to video chat. Is there someone from your circle of friends that this has happened to? If so, you can encourage them to keep their chin up and to stay strong.
There are ways you can reach out to the isolated: Send them a card letting them know that you are thinking of them. Call to see if they need any help or offer to get them groceries from the store. Offer to help set up a video call so they can talk to their family and friends. Reach out to organizations that can help as well — for example, Little Brother Friends of the Elderly (littlebrothermn.org) is a non-profit volunteer-based organization that is committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. They match volunteers with older adults for companionships, events, referrals and advocacy. Many times both the volunteer and the older adult find such value through their relationships. And for the folks who love to read, the Minneapolis Library will mail books to their home.
Soon the warm days of summer will be a thing of the past and Jack Frost will be nipping at our noses again. Now is the time to reach out and be a neighbor/friend to those that need you the most. We are all in this together. With compassion and understanding we will see things in better focus in 2021. So chin up – stay strong.