Happy New Year readers and thanks for checking in on my blog!! Someone told me it was ok to wish Happy New Year until the end of January. So I am following through.
COVID has certainly changed our social gathering practices but, there will come a day when we will return to normal. These visits, gatherings and conversation are central to how you keep your heart healthy and maintain meaningful relationships for later years.
A few weeks ago I worked with a a vibrant, beautiful 66 year old woman who had a recent stroke. It has left her speechless and without the use of her right hand. She is right handed, so you can imagine the new normal she now has to experience.
She now needs an in home caregiver to assist her with showers and getting dressed. She is no longer able to just get into her car and run her errands or to go to work. She is coping remarkably well and has a very caring family who sees to her needs. But nothing takes the place of being able to visit friends and join conversations as she feels.
Strokes and heart attacks are plaguing women at disproportionate levels.
It is almost the beginning of February so we will turn our attention to Heart Health Month, Black History Month and a special day for women called Go Red for Women. That Day is February 5th, 2021 this year.
On Friday February 5th you are asked to join in the fight against Heart Disease and wear something red to show your support and bring awareness. Speak to your friends and neighbors, co-workers and family about their annual check up and paying close attention to their body indicators. The American Heart Association says heart attacks "claim the lives of 1 in 3 women" and that many are preventable though lifestyle choices and healthy habits.
You know to keep your heart healthy through diet, good sleep and exercise. Living a stress free life is what we all strive for in spite of COVID. But, meaningful interactive friendships and associations especially need our nurturing before we get to our caregiver days. Those interactions actually help us keep our heart healthy.
There are adult seniors and many others not yet of the senior community who are lonely. This does not keep the heart healthy. Writing letters, dropping someone a card, making a brief call can really lighten someone's day and help keep them heart healthy.
Others think of you when you share, and then they will tell your great stories to their listeners which remind us of those friendships and family. Today you have so many opportunities to take and save pictures, do videos and share. These opportunities tell stories of one's life and remind us of each others values.
Grandparents really love seeing their grandchildren's pictures so grandkids you have a responsibility and opportunity to help keep the older folks heart healthy by your interactions.
Maintaining our friendships and relationships through consistent interaction means we have to contact each other and stay in the loop.
What about those who are further along into their caregiver days such as parents, friends, other family members and neighbors? How do they pass their time? Is there anything that you can learn from their present situation as it may relate to you in the future when your caregiver days arrive?
Watching senior adults in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and in their residences get through their day is a reminder of how our needs are met through friendships. For those with a daily, weekly or even 24/7 caregiver they look forward to that person coming in to help them and converse with them. For those in nursing homes the staff is sometimes their only family. Many nursing home staff workers have great relationships with the residents and talk and laugh with them quite a bit. It is great to see the laundry staff, the housekeeping staff, the culinary staff, the nursing staff having fun and lightening the days of the residents. Private caregivers get to know other caregiver and will look out for each other's clients.
Good interactive friendships ease stress and improve the chances of you not getting lonely when that time arrives. You must nurture your friendships now.
When an adult senior is moved out of their home where they have been for many, many years and placed into a senior facility it is many times very unpleasant to that individual. They have enjoyed the company of those who visit and love their old surroundings. COVID is damaging those visits right now, but we will get back to our customs and must be ready with new ideas.
When an adult senior is abruptly moved from their old home it is traumatic and heart breaking to that individual. Many times it is totally the right thing but, when that senior is not informed of the decision that they are moving until the last minute it is very upsetting. That depends on a host of reasons and situations which doesn't make it any less painful for the person being moved. For many of these seniors their friends do not call anymore for several reasons. Some outlive their friends and spouse by many years. They may be the one surviving of their old group.
As we rush through our activities every day barely having enough time to get all of our planned day completed it is hard to envision a day when you barely see anyone with whom you may want to chat.
Even if it is just a visit to the supermarket or the post office, there are people with whom you can talk in spite of COVID. Just as long as you are wearing your mask and social distancing people will talk with each other and make new friends!
Some are even venturing out to eat in restaurants. We cannot let the isolation define our heart health. The older folks really look forward to at least one time going out even with a caregiver ever so often. Some are bold and will go to a restaurant when it is has way less traffic. Keep that social interaction going and keep your heart healthy.
Go ahead and Wear Red on February 5th in support of the day and this cause. Remind your friends, family and neighbors!
And on February 1st Take a look at the live stream on uTube From the American Heart Association featuring a discussion on "Why Losing One Woman Is Too Many"
Let's help each other stay heart healthy, by staying informed and support each other.
Ruth Y. Webster