I woke up today and thought, “I have nothing to do today.” It has been 12 days since our family has been “social distancing”. A little longer than some perhaps since first I, then Dad, had spring colds that we were monitoring cautiously to be sure they did not become something more ominous. Fortunately, we are both doing fine. But after 12 days, I am already feeling more than a little caged in. And the news is not encouraging about how long we may be isolated from our friends and family. My hubby, Lew, said to me this morning, “You’d better not plan on the family Easter dinner this year.” He is right, of course. Especially since Dad is in a high-risk category. And since two of our sons are out there risking exposure, one as an ER doctor and one as the GM for the Marriott on South Beach. I’m restless, I’m somewhere between nervous and depressed every single time I see/hear/read the news. And it is hard to avoid.
As hard as this is for me, I have to remember that it is very anxiety producing for Dad. All of his routines have been interrupted. Remembering what day of the week it is has become a daily chore, for all of us. Dad’s internal calendar had been set for RSB on Tuesdays and Fridays, Palms’ Support Group on Thursdays and church and church activities on Sundays and beyond. Now, there is nothing. Every day is the same. I had to say to him that we needed to set a schedule for showers, since boxing and going to church had determined their timing before. He said: “It won’t be long and we’ll be back to our routine and this will take care of itself.” I had to remind him that it could be weeks, months even. I understand the longing for familiar routines and social groups. RSB and the support group were not just an exercise session and a meeting, they both offered socialization on a level which all of us need in our lives, but especially those with Parkinson’s. And the sudden loss of all of these social connections is acute for Parkinson’s warriors…as well as caregivers. I read today that this pandemic may result in a loneliness epidemic. And to add insult to injury, the elderly, who are particularly susceptible to loneliness, are also the ones typically least proficient on social media platforms. Texting, FaceTime, Zoom and Facebook may seem like a foreign language.
In the article titled, How to Cope with Loneliness During the Coronavirus Pandemic, authored by Arlin Cunic and updated 3/18/20, the author lays out several activities to manage feelings of loneliness.
1. Keep to a daily schedule, when you get up, when you eat, etc.
2. Keep a daily diary about how you are feeling, what you are doing
3. Plan one activity for each day. It need not be a big activity. This could include things like cleaning, baking, trying a new recipe, watching an old and loved movie, calling a friend, building and painting a bird house (ok, that is what the Ritters/Alamsha are doing today)
4. Set up virtual “outings”, Zoom with several friends or family members
5. Learn a new skill by watching YouTube. They have a “how-to” for everything!
6. Stay informed, but don’t spend too much time on the news, it can become overwhelming
7. Stay active. Kristen has sent wonderful videos for activities to do at home. There are also many more on YouTube. Or you could garden, take a walk, wash the car, etc. If you have a smart TV and cable, just hold in the blue button on the remote and say “Exercises for Parkinson’s on YouTube” and voila, there they are.
8. Sign up for an online course. Currently you can take online courses at Princeton or Columbia for free!
9. Create a family tree, knit, embroider, draw
10. Write letters, this is a lost art and all of us love receiving real mail
11. Place pictures of what you love all over the house
12. Meditate, yoga
13. Many museums are now offering virtual tours including the Louvre and the Guggenheim
14. Join the private Rock Steady Boxing Facebook group, RSB JAX FIGHTERS, https://www.facebook.com/groups/710041996468077/
15. And feel free to call/text or email me (and Dad) @ 904-705-7949; email@example.com
One of my ways to cope is to write to all of you. My thoughts and prayers are with each of you as we charter this unknown territory. But remember, we are all only a phone call from each other.