Being An Older Person During The Pandemic Of Covid-19

By Henry M. Barlow, Ph. D. ~

Being an older person in the modern world is an experience filled with opportunities and challenges but living with COVID-19 can be extremely challenging.  For many, social isolation is the norm. Simply being older along with having preexisting health conditions such as diabetes increases the risk of sickness and mortality.  Living in a nursing home or assisted living facility or being admitted to the hospital may dramatically increase the risk of dying.   Moreover, one may experience a terrible illness followed by death alone. 

For those who are able to live independently or in a facility with supportive staff, the risk of social isolation may still be dramatically high.  One may or may not be able to communicate via phone or zoom or send text messages.  To cope with the isk of social isolation and aloneness, I want to share some ideas.  Clearly, one might spend time reading, listening to television programs, a radio, or recorded music.  All of us can be part of a passive role but I prefer to take an active role.  Our hours of aloneness may be converted into opportunity.

One activity that offers many benefits for us, our family, and others we love is writing.  Take the opportunity and write your autobiography.  If you have a personal computer, use it to write.  If all that you have is a pencil or a pen and paper, use them to write. Think of the personal benefits you may experience from writing your autobiography.  You can remember and relish special events, memorable occasions, and happy times you have shared with others.  Remembering difficult times, painful experiences, disappointments and even moments of despair may offer the opportunity for personal growth.  We can grow stronger, improve our psychological sell-being, and set the stage for happier times to come by analyzing these aspects of our life and giving ourselves credit for the goodness of our lives.  One need not be rich or famous to love and appreciate life.

So, I have a suggestion.  Please start writing your autobiography.  You might begin with these topics to write about:  

  1. Begin with your birth.  Say where you were born, where your parents live;, did you have brothers and sisters, were you the first last, middle child, or only child.  
  2. Tell what you know about your childhood.  For example, tell the stories you learned from birth to age    five or six and starting school.
  3. Elementary school, middle school, and high school.
  4. Your teen age years
  5. Young adulthood and the work you did or education you pursued
  6. Ages 30-39 and 40-49
  7. Your fifties
  8. Age 60 and beyond

This is simply one format for organizing your work.  If you like another, follow it.  

Just remember to talk about what actually happened and how you feel about these aspects of your life.  You will write a great story and all of us will benefit.  It will not banish the ill effects of COVID-19 but I strongly believe it will be an experience of great value.

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