Tag Archives: COVID-19

Locked down with the virus at the door

STRESSORS TO THE RIGHT OF US, STRESSORS TO THE LEFT

If you live in a retirement community, you are surrounded by vulnerable people – it is the nature of the beast.

Once you move here, they become your friends and neighbors, and you care what happens to them, to the facility, and to yourself in the place you have chosen for your ‘forever home.’

When you get the WEEKLY notice of the results of testing (the whole staff is now being tested once a week):

  1. A private duty aide tested positive.
    • We received results on 8/20.
    • We have not identified prolonged direct exposure to other staff members.
    • This individual provided care for 5 residents. Each of these individuals has been contacted and will be tested. None of these 5 residents are believed to have had any contact with other residents or staff.

and you realize that those in charge are thinking that they will have to continue ‘at least two more weeks as a result of the positive case,’ you also realize they are living in a dream world where, without treatment, cure, or vaccine, they think it’s going to get better – OR they’re saying that because they think WE might feel better – you realize you are living in a situation that you have no control over, and it will continue for a very long time to come.

Everyone is under stress ALL the time

We took the not-fun stress of getting older, old enough to move into a place where you are no longer responsible for a house and yard, and moved.

We haven’t recovered, not really, from the move.

We have never quite completely moved in – the assistant we were hiring is not permitted to come in and help because she is not considered ‘essential.’

The ‘private duty aides’ ARE essential – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a life, a home, kids, families – and go home to them every day.

We live in a web of interconnections

The reason we are here is because we estimate that some point in the future we will need the help the aides provide, and it is much easier to do it through a facility than one of us caring for the other.

Our kids will probably never all live close, and we made this move so they wouldn’t become caretakers or even arrangers of care, because, with all the good will in the world, it is a humongous job to take care of parents.

None of us planned for such a far-reaching and deadly pandemic.

Je Ne Regrette Rien – moving was the right decision.

But we were going to move, dump the house and responsibilities, and travel – from a home base which we could just turn the key on and forget.

We’re in the age group where, if we take reasonable care, we could expect to live another 30 years. I want to go home to Mexico to visit my family. I want to find a way to do some gentle travel to Europe. If I ever get a bit better, I would love to ski again.

Or hike. Or camp (even in an RV instead of a tent).

With the kids, I want to do a family vacation every year, so they stay connected with us and with each other, and we have fun.

There has been a kink in the plans.

I struggle every day to write, while at the same time fully realizing that stress kills, and there is too much on everyone right now.

Here is a stress inventory.

It is good to take one periodically, to see if things are under control, and if they are getting better or worse.

IIRC, inventory numbers over 300 are practically a direct warning of major illness coming soon, and lower numbers are not ignorable.

I don’t dare take the inventory right now.

Instead, I am taking every possible relaxation approach to dealing with what I know is there.

An important part of dealing with stress is simply acknowledging it

And looking for a time in the (we hope near) future when it will be less.

Which is what we were aiming for, until the latest notice from the county which put the kibosh on using the outdoor pool (which was about to go from 3 to 5 days a week) – because of a new menace, FIRES!

And realizing that others have it far worse than we do.

So, when it gets stressful, I blog – and dump some of it.

Records, records, records

I’m also recording for posterity, as these post are part of the ‘accidental autobiography’ I’m creating by writing bits and pieces in a series of places: emails to friends, notes on the computer, annotations in the Production File I have open for every scene I write, blog posts, and the unlikely storage in social media.

I just requested a current copy of my Facebook information – and will store it on the external hard drive.

Wattpad deleted the forums – and did not give us a chance to do that – so I lost all my forum activity.

I did download everything I created for my Patreon account – some of which may be used again down the line if I serialize the second book, NETHERWORLD.

And I also realize that this is of importance to no one but myself.

And remind myself that I need to create a document for our children which summarizes the information about the family that they might like to have when we’re gone.

ASK YOURSELF what you need to do to reduce stress – and what you need to record for the future – and do it one of these days. Tell us in the comments!

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Seniors afraid in lockdown without being consulted

NO ONE HAS ASKED FOR MY OPINION

Decisions are being made left and right about the people who are living in senior communities.

From Independent Living, to Assisted Living, to Memory Support units, to Skilled Nursing facilities, managers and administrative personnel, government officials and medical personnel are taking decisions without consulting those of us who live in these places.

Those who can’t make their own decisions

There are a certain percentage of us who will not be making decisions for themselves because their minds are failing, and they don’t understand what’s going on – or what the options for doing something about it might be.

Families and facilities will be making those decisions, and many in this group have been badly served in homes and in those facilities which were supposed to keep them safe. Many have died without a clue as to what was going on, and without having their loved ones with them.

And yes, they are living and dying afraid.

But some of us are perfectly coherent – and we are being ignored

There are many of us who need some physical caretaking, and others who have joined a facility like our Continuing Care Retirement Community are perfectly functional and coherent but getting older.

Management routinely ignores our expertise and refuses to take advantage of the fabulous array of powerful minds here.

It is a lack of respect.

It is being managed by people who have far less knowledge and experience, compared to the accumulation in our particular facility, than we do, and who act as if we were children looking for something entertaining to do with our time.

I admit we will all fail with time – and some will accept that more graciously than others – but it galls.

Even though I’m one of the people whose expertise doesn’t go to the public good, I recognize the people among us who have been and still are powerhouses – and it galls.

It is a form of gaslighting

If you treat people for long enough as not having competence, they will give up – and that’s not good for us.

The result is an unnecessarily exaggerated lockdown, partly due to those among us who are not capable any more of understanding the limitations, but applied to those of us who are, and it doesn’t make for happy compliance when those with opinions keep getting shot down.

It’s not a good time to leave.

We made our decision, highly based on the people who live here, and will probably stick it out unless one of our kids has extraordinary requirements, and possibly even then, because I am so physically limited I’m practically useless.

It could be, SHOULD BE different

But it could feel SO much more like a collaboration between those of us PAYING for services and those providing them.

Which would serve to allay the fear, and find safe ways around the restrictions such as people who moved here so a spouse could be in the Memory Support unit most of the time, but have some meals with spouse and other family members in the various dining facilities, could see that spouse.

I greatly fear that we have lost what makes this place special, and are too easily giving up what makes this place good for couples where one person deteriorates first.

I fear for the mental health of those completely isolated ‘for their own good,’ who can’t understand or remember the explanations – and have no family or friend able to supervise their care. It is well known that the one thing that keeps a facility on its toes is supervision – for the little things which don’t appear on the checklists.

And for those who need the facilities here to exist even slightly well, I think we are being so restrictive that they/I am in pain far more than necessary, and some may be losing the will to fight on.


Management shouldn’t be as overwhelmed as they are – the business efficiencies, unquestioned, add up to hardship.

The lack of transparency really hurts.

And the attitude is confrontational.


 

Riding out the storm in a CCRC

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a giant bubble.

I went swimming (okay, floating around) in the indoor pool for the first time in almost a month, since I got the flu.

Not another soul around.

On the way back, I went outside for a short bit – and we had dinner with friends.

This is as normal as it’s going to get. Our hatches are battened down. We are in a virtual lock-down – no one in from the outside who isn’t necessary.

Food selections are far fewer – but still someone else’s job. The servers, many of them high school kids and college kids, are doing a lot to keep us clean, and counter and door knobs wiped – and we’re going hard doing the same.

It’s going to be long – we were estimating it will take at least a couple of months. So we are cautiously supporting each other, and happy we moved here – this would have been soul-killing in NJ, even though there are so many more potentially infectious people here.

I don’t know what will happen – apparently this is Level 2 – and they have plans up to Level 5!

I wonder if the service was as good on the deck of the Titanic.

Outside people – staff

First, our staff. For 350 or so people, we have 200 staff.

TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE who go home every night and come back the next day.

All of our staff live in Davis and the surrounding communities, including Sacramento.

Outside people – family and friends

A very large percentage of our residents come from the city of Davis (where the University of California, Davis, is located). Many taught at UCD, reared children in Davis, and/or still have a child or grandchild in the city.

For Sunday brunches and holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Easter and others, we have to make reservations in advance because so many family members come here. For a quite competitive price, it is easy to have your whole family come here for the holidays. After, while the grownups are talking, it is easy for a few of the parents to take the more wiggly kids swimming to tire them out.

So the connection to Davis is strong – and large.

We have been asked not to have any nonessential visitors – INCLUDING family members. No restrictions on going out – yet. Our oldest from San Francisco will not be coming.

Outside people – everyone else

Firefighters and ambulances are common here – they respond to all kinds of 911 calls, from falls to potential fatalities.

Outside workmen are here all the time, involved in ongoing maintenance and refurbishing the 10% of apartments that turn over in a typical year. There was a guy walking on the roof on the other side of the building this morning. Our roofs have just been replaced – possibly some kind of inspector.

Delivery personnel, including post office employees, are here daily – the front desk handles a mass of packages from all over. These people are now being asked to stop at the front desk and take a temperature scan, and their entry into the building is being minimized.

Staying occupied and involved will be up to us, individually.

All other groups – and we have concerts, lectures, trips, movies – from the outside are being canceled. We are mostly staying in our apartments – not congregating in groups of more than 20 has been requested by management.

We’re trying to ‘flatten the curve’

All we can really hope for is slowing the contagion. The concept is well delineated in a graph from various sources; FastCompany has the story AND several versions of the graph, including one that emphasizes what place like our CCRC are trying to do.

The idea is simple – even for those with a limited science/math background: our healthcare system (NOT uniformly spread over the whole USA) has a certain number of beds in intensive care (under a million), of which about 10% can support critical patients who need help with breathing (about 90,000 beds).

If we have too many people getting to the critical point where they need breathing support (like currently in Italy), then there literally will not be enough of these hospital beds to go around, and doctors will have to make tough choices about who gets one, AND THEY’RE ALREADY PLANNING ON THROWING OLDER PEOPLE AND PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY DISABLED or ILL WITH OTHER PROBLEMS (like ME/CFS) UNDER THE BUS – BY DENYING THEM ACCESS TO THE LIMITED BEDS.

So it is crucial to have people get sick at a slower rate.

Because we have no tools to STOP the virus yet. No vaccine, no immunity.

Slowing contagion is done by increasing the distance between people beyond 6 ft. (droplets from coughs make it about that far). Not going out. Not bringing people in.

And by proper cleaning techniques for surfaces (the CCRC staff plus residents are decontaminating surfaces frequently).

And by not transferring any virus particles to ourselves: proper hand-washing, and NOT touching our faces with hands which might be contaminated.

By letting medical personnel know if we have any of the symptoms: fever, cough, headaches… so a sick person can be further isolated if appropriate – and helped to get better.

It still takes SEVERAL WEEKS in intensive care to recover, if you’re one of the critically ill. During that time, you will be occupying a bed and having a lot of help with breathing, and taking a LOT of time from medical personnel.


That’s it for the current state of our waiting, quietly trying to conserve resources and delay the onset of the inevitable as long as possible.


Be sure you have books to read, ahem – long fat complex books – while waiting out the storm.