Aging in Place

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Remember this from an Aging in Place column a year ago? Hoorah!!! After 15+ months, we don’t have to do this anymore, except by personal choice, of course. Isn’t it grand to see smiling faces instead of just eyes? Tualatin Life asked me for some perspective on how life was for our seniors in the community and the impact of COVID (which in a lot of ways will be similar or the same for all age groups), and are we now celebrating? Or still cautious?

For me, the biggest impact on my life for 15 plus months was the isolation from my friends and interests that keep me active outside my home. I know how fortunate I am to have had all the basic needs of everyday living available to me. I didn’t have much to complain or worry about – except maybe my glasses fogging up and learning, after living with my son 24/7 for a year until he went back to work, that eye-rolling is a form of exercise. All of which is my weird sense of humor saying I managed okay.

We all have stories to tell and memories to share. Some are humorous, and some are sad. Some reveal how people did or didn’t cope, helped others, stayed positive, sought help when needed and even learned how to ZOOM. Am I celebrating? Yes. Am I cautious? Yes. I’m okay with small gatherings, welcoming handshakes and hugs from my close friends and family. I am still shopping at off hours to avoid crowded aisles, and I’m even eating out again. If social distancing and/or masks are still required in some places, I’m okay with that too.

I reached out to some friends for their reaction to the question of ‘celebrating or cautious,’ and most echoed my sentiments, especially a common thread of isolation and outside activities.

“I don’t feel much different than before the pandemic,” one of them said. “I missed family and friend gatherings and am glad to be out without a mask. I’m not out meandering through stores yet, and I’ve heard a lot of people feel that way.”

From the Juanita Pohl Senior Center came: “What our participants missed the most was not having the in-person social connection because the building was closed. Now that the Center is open again, there is positive energy in the building because people are together again even though it still feels odd.”

Another friend commented: “Friends from the Pohl Center have been a mainstay for sanity and support. Online activities allowed me to stay close with friends and meet new ones.”

I know there are many stories and experiences out there from all ages on how each of us navigated the pandemic; how we dealt with closures, isolation, loss, learning new ways to cope and accept what was, and learning how to navigate what is.

Is “new normal” now our go-to phrase even if we aren’t quite sure yet what that is? As we move forward in the days, weeks and months ahead, hopefully, we will recognize what ‘that is and continue to put our lives and livelihoods back together. Maybe we are giving up some pre-pandemic ways, learning new post-pandemic ways or staying the same. Whichever it is, we are all still here in our community with the same CAN DO spirit that embodies Tualatin. Hoorah for us!!

News Flash for Seniors:

The Juanita Pohl Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm; no masks required, but certainly your choice. MOWP has not opened the dining center for lunch yet, but home delivery is still available. Be sure to stay in touch with in-house and virtual class offerings by going to: www.tualatinoregon.gov/recreation/adult-programs-and-services.

The Tualatin Aging Task Force is back and you are invited to attend. The first meeting of 2021 will be held on Monday, August 9, 3:00 pm, at the Juanita Pohl Center. Presentations will be made by Ride Connection on the new shuttle service on Borland Road and by City staff with updates on Moving Forward, Basalt Creek and traffic congestion. At press time, masks are not required at JPC but please have one with you in case. We will meet in the dining room so social distancing will be an option.

Please note that this column was written and submitted before the new CDC mask guidelines were announced.