Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah bring families together to celebrate, share good cheer, and anticipate the year ahead. But we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The social distancing rule has become a wrench in the works and some outside-the-box holiday thinking may be required. Finding gratitude now may be more challenging, as the pandemic has pummeled us with negatives. But there have been some bright spots:
Front-line healthcare workers: The work of doctors, nurses, and supporting care staff has been nothing short of incredible! Healthcare is not always glamorous and these workers have run themselves ragged by working around the clock to reduce the curve, risking their own lives to save others. They deserve our admiration and congratulations for their dogged determination and dedication during very demanding times.
Corporate and personal generosity: Google has established a COVID-19 fund for temporary staff and vendors. This allows individuals to take paid sick leave if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are quarantining at home. Canadian retailer, Harry Rosen, has been re-purposing dress shirts to produce face masks – many of which have been donated to Canadian hospitals. Heart-warmingly, complete strangers have also quickly responded to food donation requests, tips to find toilet paper and hand sanitizers, calls to drive others to the grocery store, GoFundMe.com campaigns, and so on.
Virtual doctor’s appointments: I’ve needed to consult with my family doctor a couple of times over the past several months. Instead of scheduling me to come to his office and risk staff and other patients, my doctor has called me. I’ve found these calls prompt, thorough, and convenient--even the pharmacy is notified of any required prescription and I am texted when to pick it up. The pharmacy also has me on refill alert and I receive a reminder text when I am running low on a prescription.
The Internet: Self-isolation has become the norm, but the Internet has been a godsend! It can connect seniors and family caregivers with next door neighbours or strangers around the world. It can educate about health conditions, link to on-line resources, and entertain with YouTube videos--I’ve found Grey Cup football games on this website and enjoyed reminiscing. If sports videos aren’t your cup of tea, you could listen to a concert, poke through old museum displays, admire the sights at a resort destination, or saddle up and join a horse ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Online business meetings have become increasingly common, but informal events can be effective too (e.g., Zoom family get-togethers).
“Good news” news stories: While the media has an obligation to report on current happenings, what they tell us doesn’t have to all be serious. Television news seem to add more “kickers” to their newscasts--“feel good” stories about cute fuzzy kittens being rescued from trees, surviving bee colonies in the burned-out Notre Dame Cathedral, the family dog returning home after months of being lost, or 90-year-old grandparents being released from hospital after a COVID-19 scare.
These have been trying times which have tested us physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Seniors and caregivers may be questioning the upcoming holidays, but by adjusting their thinking, they can find that there were positives and valid reasons to celebrate this year. Pour yourself an eggnog, light the kinara, serve up some latkes and Happy Holidays!
Rick Lauber has written Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide (Self-Counsel Press) as valuable resources for prospective, new, and current caregivers. He is also on the Board of Directors for Caregivers Alberta. As The Caregiver Coach for the Alberta Prime Times, Lauber shares caregiving news, thoughts, and insights on a bi-monthly basis. www.ricklauber.com.