By Angelena Boden
The pandemic sweeping the world has caught most governments with their proverbial pants down. Crisis management, and a lot of hand flapping seems to be the UK government’s way of handling things, especially when it comes to advising the over 70s on keeping themselves safe.
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, looks more haunted by the hour as he issues one confusing and contradictory message after another about self-isolation and what it means in practice. Firstly, he announced that a lock down was coming. That meant no leaving the house or having visitors. Then, a change of heart. Over 70s will be allowed out for essential trips to the shops and to walk the dog. What he has made clear is that this reversal of lifestyle will last at least four months.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s National Clinical Director, Profession Jason Leitch, sounds like a sensible man who can think in a straight line. He says that there is no problem with the elderly having symptom-free visitors. That said, we know that the peculiarity of this nasty little virus is that it can infect without producing any symptoms.
Considering some of the despicable comments polluting social media about Covid19 being a perfect opportunity to wipe out the boomers - #boomerremover is trending on Twitter - it’s heartening to see our “beloved” politicians wanting to take care of us oldies… by locking us up behind closed doors until they say we can come out to play again.
I am being facetious. Of course it’s important that we follow the advice of the epidemiologists. The elderly are more likely to have accompanying conditions such as COPD, heart disease, diabetes et al and no-one wants to see their grandparents or parents succumb to Covid19 because there were no hospital beds or respirators available. They/we need protecting, but we have to play our part too. If you’ve been glued to the constant news feed, you will be aware that the mortality rate for those of advanced age is the highest but we won’t discuss numbers. We’re not going to be one of them, because we will do the right thing.
Social distancing is the name of this game. That means not going dancing, bowling, to theatres or out for dinner. At the time of writing many cinemas such as the Odeon are temporarily closed. For some who live in relative social isolation anyway this won’t be such a blow, but let’s not forget that in most cases, the loneliest and forgotten do not chose this way of life. Sadly, connections are lost: families move away, friends die and neighbours keep themselves to themselves.
This is going to be tough. My father would have been 95 this September. He started his nursing career as a TB nurse in Sheffield. He knew something about proper hygiene and the fear of pandemics. He worked until he was 83, latterly as a Macmillan hospice nurse. Work was his life, as it is for many people past retirement age. I’m so glad he’s not here to witness this crisis as he would be offering to volunteer in the hospital and we’d have a right old game trying to get him to stay home!
David Blunkett, former Labour MP, (72) has recently commented that if he’s not allowed to go to work, his quality of life will be dire.
My husband will be 70 next month. I’m 64. Will he be allowed out or is the onus on me to do the shopping and walk the dog? We are as confused as anyone.
The good news is that neighbourhoods are rallying to support the elderly in their area. Dropping postcards through letter boxes offering a lifeline telephone number for emergencies or just to have a chat shows the depth of the human spirit. There are good people out there. We just need to find them and connect with them.
We are at war but this time the enemy is unknown and unseen. It is blitzing everything in sight – handrails, cash machine buttons, door handles and the very air we breathe.
But it can’t get one over on us. We are grey power. We can do this together if we drum up the spirit of the Blitz. If we play our part by not getting infected and making sure we don’t infect others we will conquer this “thing”. It’s not a quick fix so bunker down with books, films, games. Learn a new hobby. Play chess on line. Connect with groups on social media. Keep in touch on Skype or whatever medium you’re most comfortable with.
Also, this is the perfect time to write that memoir for your family. Get out the photograph album. Put on some music from your favourite era. Dance in the kitchen. See your life as a cine film rolling backwards.
Eat nutritious food, sleep, nap, walk around the garden, see the joy in small things and know that there are people willing to help and connect with you, and I’m one of them.
I would like to offer my services to anyone in need of some company. Have a cuppa with me on Skype or a chat on the telephone. Write me a letter and I will reply by letter. Details will be sent in a separate email. If there is enough interest and the technology is in place, I can organise an online group discussion.
Please don’t suffer in silence. #Stronger Together.
Angelena’s extraordinarily generous offer is for members of Autumn Voices only. Angelena , who was a counsellor for 35 years, says: ‘The way I would like it to work would be for the interested party to email me first with a bit about themselves and maybe after a few exchanges, they can give me their number. I would be able to phone between 6 and 7.30pm which is free for me. I'd organise 2 Skype sessions from 2pm to 4pm. One in the week ( moveable), the other on a Saturday.’
Angelena’s contact details are:
Skype address is Angelena Boden
Postal address, 101 Newtown Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 1PE
Angelena holds a Masters in Social Science, with an emphasis on behavioural psychology. She has diplomas in Transactional Analysis which she has practised for over thirty years in her own life, and with her clients. She is a qualified teacher/trainer of 40 years, coach and mentor. Her specialist interest is in promoting older protagonists in literature as positive role models for aging, as represented in her popular Edna Reid series of cosy mysteries.
Angelena is offering her services to Autumn Voices members as a befriender.