We Never Could Have Imagined!
July’s Kol Ami Positive Aging Blog
by Harriet Epstein
When Susan Freiband and I envisioned offering Kol Ami a monthly blog about positive aging, we had all kinds of ideas for educational and fun articles. Little did we anticipate that within two months, the world, as we knew it, would completely end, with no clues about when, if ever, life would be the same, or even somewhat the same. The Covid 19 virus pandemic took the world by surprise, sporting all sorts of weird, nasty symptoms, and rapidly killing people everywhere. If you have suffered the loss of loved ones, my deepest sympathy. If you contracted the virus and survived, there may still be a period of long-term recovery. If nursing homes and assisted living facilities turned out to be hotbeds of the virus instead of safe havens for older people, and being isolated has become not merely too quiet, but lonely and depressing – so have many others. And to add to the confusion and misery, we have subsequently witnessed the racially motivated killing of George Floyd, and other innocent black Americans, mainly perpetrated by white police officers, followed by nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations engendering a combination of empathy, concerns about antisemitism, and conflicting efforts to improve our world.
I wish I were a miracle worker who could take this all away, or find something helpful to say to enable us to continue bravely forward. But, truth to tell, I am looking for such assistance for myself as well as for you. On June 21 of this year, Parade Magazine listed a number of ideas suggested by longevity experts to help people live longer and healthier. Some of these ideas also seemed good for fighting the double whammy of the Virus and systemic hatred. So I am stealing, rewording, and combining some of these and adding a few ideas of my own. I still have a long way to go to follow all of them, but I’m trying.
- Nourish your Body: Continue to eat regularly, but lightly, and don’t skip meals. Everyone has their own special diet or can find a good one in the newspaper or online. (The Parade article touts a plant-centered diet plus beans, and moderate protein). Avoid junk food, and don’t snack just to calm down. Drink lots of water to remain hydrated. Reasonable amounts of coffee and tea are OK, too. Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.
- Guard your Health: Don’t skip medications and treatments prescribed by your doctors. If you experience new health problems, contact your doctor or other health provider. Many doctors are now providing telemedicine visits for their patients, and some have reopened their offices to small numbers of patients who need to be seen, following strict Covid hygiene procedures. Exercise to whatever extent you are able. Just a few minutes daily is better than nothing. Go outside for a walk in an underpopulated, non-isolated area, but avoid becoming overheated in the summer sun. Wear your face mask and wash your hands like they say. Aim for 8 hours of sleep.
- Enjoy a Social Life: This means different things to different people. Keep in touch with family, friends, significant others, neighbors, and organizations – even if it’s only via telephone, e-mail, Zoom, or waving from your yard to your neighbor’s. At least two to three times a week I call someone I haven’t heard from or seen recently to see how they are doing. This makes me feel good, and they are usually happy to hear from me. Some groups of friends I know are playing Mah Jong or doing readings from Shakespeare weekly on Zoom – which is both mentally and socially rewarding.
- Nourish your Mind: I spoke of this in a previous message. Learn a language, read, do puzzles, play Solitaire, keep those wheels turning. (Reread the blog on learning Hebrew if you wish).
- Nourish your Soul: Yes, I believe we all have one of these. That’s the place where each person’s special light shines. Attend Kol Ami Zoom services and watch other interesting lectures and events offered by many different Jewish organizations. Pray. Strengthen your faith. Observe Shabbat and other holidays as they occur. Find meaning and purpose in your life under the changed conditions we face – not as easy as before Covid, but still possible. Focus on the good you can still accomplish, and watch your light shine brightly again. (Contact Rabbi Langner, Care & Concern, or seek therapeutic assistance, if needed, to help make this happen).